Hey everybody! I thought that after my review of the ReBoot Forever art-book, that I’d try and do another free-form review. After all, I can’t really review today’s subject like how I normally would. That’s because today’s subject was a short film, posted online about a year ago. It’s something that I discovered just this year and watched a surprising amount of times. Pretty much everything about it I love.
I love that it is essentially a faux 90s cartoon, that it has good animation, good music, and pulls on the heartstrings of all action-cartoon fans. I’ll be honest, I love good ol’ cheesy action cartoons from the 90s. It’s been an interest of mine since childhood! Sadly, there are few action cartoons on the market as of writing. I’d love for there to be a resurgence, and it’s good to see that people still have an interest in this genre. I’ll stop beating around the bush here, let’s talk about today’s subject: Super Turbo Atomic Ninja Rabbit!
Now, I said this is an animated short, which is true. However, it’s a little more than that. Before I get into more of what I mean, let’s talk about the short itself. This short depicts a team of anthropomorphic animals, lead by a rabbit in battle-armor. This rabbit is none other than the titular “Super Turbo Atomic Ninja Rabbit”, who also goes by Stan or Mizashi. The first part of the short acts as a theme song intro for STANR.
We’ve got our heroes doing cool poses, fighting a bunch of bear-dude in battle gear, as well as facing off against an evil wizard vulture. The first thing I gotta say is that the animation is spectacular! It’s good old hand-drawn animation, and it looks SO GOOD! Characters are designed well and are varied enough in their designs so that they don’t feel stale. The artists take into mind animal anatomy and combine it with clever costume-design, creating a team of combat critters that don’t feel like five different animal skins pasted onto 5 similar-looking muscly dudes.
Seriously, I love the concepts behind some of these designs and the way the physicality of the animals is brought into them. For example, the giraffe villain is wearing an eye-patch. Giraffes in real-life are known for having their eyes on the sides of their head, which makes this poor fellow severely limited in terms of vision. There are tons of other small nods to animal physiology, such as Stan’s raised plantigrade feet.
Weapon designs are great, from the frog’s nunchakus to Stan’s samurai sword, everything looks great. Even though the characters never talk during this opening theme song, you get a really good idea of what the characters are about. This comes down to both the animation and character design. Believe it or not, you can tell a lot about a character without them needing to say a word. This comes down to expressions, design, and animation style. It’s like meeting someone in real-life, you build your perceptions off what your interactions with said person.
From this intro, I can tell that the frog Wyatt is the brainy yet combat ready nerd, that the rooster is the cocky (pun intended) cool guy of the bunch, that the bear is the silent stoic one, and that the fox is the spunky battle-hardened female of the group. Again, a lot comes down to character design and animation. Body language in cartoons is just as important as it is in real life. After all, who would want to watch a cartoon full of bland characters with bland designs? Heck, even their vehicle has a cool design, complete with rabbit-like buck-teeth!
After the introductory theme song, we get the “episode”. And by episode, we get a 5 second clip set in the past featuring Mizashi’s master ready to test his pupil. Afterwards, the end credits play, complete with an instrumental theme and retro storyboards of the character’s designs. This makes up the entirety of the 2 minute long short film. We have a sequence with great music and animation, an extremely short bit of an episode, and then ending credits. It’s small, but effective. Believe it or not, the short is just part of this small multimedia sensation.
In 2015, this short made its way online and was advertised as some sort of lost 80s or 90s anime-style cartoon. This was coupled with “official” merchandise of the show ending up online, such as a thermos and lunchbox, both bearing the likeness of characters from the show. Then you have people online vaguely remembering the show, despite it not existing in that period. And this wasn’t due to ignorance or playing along, as a lot of really good stuff can be forgotten from that early period of childhood.
Of course, this was all just an elaborate prank by animation company “The Line”. If you’ve never heard of this animation team, I suggest checking out their Youtube channel. They have a great video called “The Roadtrip” which features two tiny animated characters drinking about in an RC car. Anyway, The Line based this short off of a comic one animator drew as a kid. This comic featured a rabbit-like samurai character who was essentially a combination of one of the Samurai Pizza Cats and comic book character Usagi Yojimbo.
The Line not only chose to make an animated short and an elaborate ruse, but also made it into a multimedia project! This includes a short VR experience where you can actually view the action from the eyes of characters within the cartoon, in a CGI recreation of how an episode would normally play out. It’s got a very 80s vibe to it, and I wholly reccomend checking it out!
Of course, you also have the purchasable art-book as well, featuring artwork from the short. Now, I still have yet to buy this, since I’m a little on the fence. Yeah, I love the art-style and animation, but it’s a bit tough to pony up the cash for an art-book that’s based off a 2 minute animation. Yes, it’s animation with a lot of hard work put into it, but I would like to see more STANR before deciding to invest cash in the series. However, knowing that the creators are hard at work on other projects, I may buy the art book regardless. After all, I like supporting hard work animators. I suggest if you have some spare cash picking up the book as well!
Sadly, this series is not more well-known. While the prank did get some attention, it was not enough to catapult it into the eyes of the public. To this day, the short still has a fan-base and a fair amount of attention, but it’s still an underground thing. I’d love if they decided to air this on Cartoon Network or something. Sadly, this series exists as just as a single short. And that sucks, but it’s hard to sell a series to a network, especially when it is just an action show.
Who knows, though? Maybe STANR could get picked up by a network, or bought by some major animation company. Maybe we’ll see our fuzzy and scaly friends again in another great animation! One can always hope, that’s all I can say. I loved this short, and I can definitely say it’s as sweet as syrup. And hey, if anyone reads this, tell everyone you know about this short. Watch it, spread the word, and try to get a following for it. Sure, it’s a year old, but any attention helps. I’m hoping that one day we can see the ideas expanded into a full series, movie, or even another short! There’s a lot to go off of here and it’s something that I think a lot of people could enjoy. We need more stuff like STANR, stuff that hits that special 90s sweet-spot. At least, that’s my opinion on the subject.