A travel and quest story! This one centers around Aang, a kid who happens to be the reincarnate of a very powerful heroic soul, and his friends. His job is to end a war and spread peace! Good subject matter to teach kids, no? And alright, they totally got me with the pretty stuff again – lovely landscapes, and y’know, all that shiny magic stuff. But really, I’ve always loved martial arts and Eastern philosophy, so naturally this one’s a fave.
2. Sailor Moon
Serena (or, Usagi, if you will) is your average clumsy, crybaby, school-going teenager – except she also gets to fulfill this other role, this other side of herself: Sailor Moon. By day she tries to maintain a normal life (which includes dessert scarfing and video games), and by night she gets to run around saving everyone’s lives, chasing a century-long moonlit romance, and just generally making things all happy and sparkly and whatnot in the end! She’s a female super hero, what’s not to like?
3. Adventure Time
The psychedelic travels of a boy and his dog who meet all kinds of cute and colorful friends along the way! One of the themes of this show is helping others, so that’s pretty cool to start with. I love the distinct personality of each of the characters, and the innocent romantic relationships, or I suppose ‘crushes’ that develop. Its style is overall silly and imaginative and I think we could all use a little more of those things!
4. My Little Pony
This has got to be the most juvenile selection. Clearly I just can’t let ‘em go! So yeah, I’m actually a fan of both versions, but I was pretty enchanted with the original series as a kid. The 80’s version was more story-like, your typical “good vs. evil” theme. The animation was more detailed, kind of like early Disney movies. The new series is a little less about well, anthropomorphic pony survival and a little more straightforward: it’s just about friendship (well, y'know, still the anthropomorphic pony kind!) Each episode is some kind of lesson about what it takes to maintain friendships, which is pretty important for anyone of any age, don’t you think?
5. Bob’s Burgers
The only item on this list that is actually intended for adults, hurray! I’d describe this one as having lots of nutty, off-the-wall humor. The characters are so well developed; it becomes quite a kooky-yet-realistic family to watch. Oh yeah, it’s about a family burger business: a mom, dad, and their 3 strange and hilarious children. Family humor is one of the best kinds!
Two words I guess: Fashion & romance! So yeah, I’m not sure this is ‘adult only' though, maybe more intended for the teenage group, perhaps? Anyway, this short series (only 1 season, 12 episodes) is about a group of neighborhood friends who get together to make clothes at an atelier and compete in a fashion show. Models and designers collide, resulting in some heavy romance and lots of beautiful clothes. A simple and sweet first love story – and don’t worry, it doesn’t get crazy, I’d rate this PG-13, and that’s being a bit conservative.
7. Wild Thornberrys
Tim Curry is a voice in this one, doesn’t that make it an easy sell? He cracks me up as the voice of one of the lead characters (the Dad), Nigel. Another family tale! Except these guys go on exotic adventures all over the globe, and the daughter (Eliza) can talk to animals. Pretty typical of kid shows, the whole talking animal thing – must be a formula for success ‘cause this one made the list.
Another neighborhood kids story. Doug Funny is a regular, awkward kinda guy who has quirky adventures with his lovable friends. It’s about dealing with bullies, siblings, and feelings! He also likes to draw comics, and a lot of episodes are about a super hero he makes up for himself called Quail Man. Imaginative daydreams abound!
An obvious classic, I know. Another typical suburban high school girl story, but totally the opposite of a protagonist like say, Serena in Sailor Moon. Daria is cool, collected, smart, and sarcastic. She kinda reminds me of my own high school best friend a little bit. I don’t know what your high school experience was like, but this girl’s a misfit and I totally identify with that! I recommend it for its feminist messages and dark, sarcastic humor.
A friendly warning: this cartoon is pure ridiculous-ness. It’s about a chef’s apprentice (Chowder), a lavender cat-rabbit-kid with a sweet, innocent demeanor who always has a wacky errand to run, which typically goes awry. It’s also about food of course (sometimes the made up kind, interestinggg..) I love the art in this show, as it incorporates many different types of media.
Honorable mentions: Fruits Basket, Magic School Bus, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Captain Planet & The Planeteers, Death Note, and Jem! How about you, do you have a favorite animated series? Did I miss any great ones?