“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”- a discussion about reboots done badly

They might look the same, but poke under the hood and you’ll find something rotten.

In some recent posts, I’ve touched on the idea of shows that haven’t aged well, but there’s also another type of show that needs to be put out to pasture, and that’s the badly done cash-grab type of reboot. In my breakdown of Disney X.D. for this decade so far,I talked about the upcoming DuckTales reboot that frankly, looks very promising. That’s one example of a re-imagining trying to do it right. Another is Hunter x Hunter, perhaps the best anime example around; it had a 1999 adaptation from Nippon Animation, which was very good, but the 2011 version is better in about every conceivable way and might just be the best anime of this decade, along with Steins;Gate. (Here’s the review.)

As you can see, I do have an admiration for well done shows that fall under the definition of “reboot,” but my ire was recently drawn towards not so illustrious examples, chiefly the Powerpuff Girls ’16, which despite recapturing much of the  original series’ visual style, lacks any of the humor, charm, originality…and to boot, has a very politically driven agenda which in my book, is a cardinal sin in animation unless your show is specifically designed for political commentary (and yes, I’m talking about South Park.) If it wasn’t any clearer about the shallow motivations for bringing back a beloved IP and shoving it into the ground, there was a conscious decision not to bring back the original voice acting cast, a decision that left VA talent giant Tara Strong rather sad, and despite reports, the original creator Craig McCracken never “gave his blessing” for Cartoon Network to go ahead with it, citing that he had “understood the business reality that I had no power to stop it from being made.” McCracken’s statement actually lends credence to the thought that except in certain circumstances, any rehashing of a story years later is usually best handled by the creator who had the vision to create the show, the characters, and the world as they saw fit….or letting them truly find someone who understands what they were trying to do. As another example, I personally would be very unhappy if I wind up writing for years about animation, and one day, maybe I can’t do it anymore and a potential successor doesn’t respect the vision and goals of what was laid out initially. That would be very sad. Reboots, like anything else are a re-interpretation of a story created by someone else most of the time, and while The Powerpuff Girls is an example that’s badly done, it’s evident that if a show gets a person or a team of people who fundamentally understand that specific universe inside and out, instead of creating a hollowed out version of a beloved flick, they can take a universe to a whole new level.

It’s not that I want to keep pointing the finger at Cartoon Network, but another example of a re-imagined show gone wrong is Teen Titans Go! The show is not meant to be the in depth effort that the original beloved Teen Titans was, but it fails miserably at its stated purpose with brain-dead humor, tasteless satires of the Titans themselves, making them shallow parody characters at best to their original inspirations, and not helping its cause is the network’s continued insistence to air the show at an alarmingly high rate despite most viewers unanimously loathing  it. The reason the show continues to air- and be renewed has nothing to do with the quality, which is a shame. It has everything to do with the merchandising and toy empire that exists- which makes loads of money.

I’ve always believed that networks could have quality shows and still make tons of cash, because people love investing themselves in gripping narratives, enthralling worlds, and compelling characters. It’s also my belief that just because a show has a specific target audience, it is a great thing if it find new niches and has an unexpected group of viewers. Bad reboots and re-imaginings, therefore really upset that beautiful idea. It emphasizes a sellout to the almighty dollar over the actual audience that gives the money and the views, forgetting to understand what made a show popular and beloved in the first place, and kills off the potential of new watchers because the shows in question have earned bad reputations, and rightfully so. This isn’t to say I think The Powerpuff Girls and Teen Titans IP’s are bad- they are still phenomenal properties, but their current incarnations are more disrespectful than anything else- to the fans, to the writers forced to go through with contrived plots, and to the universes and characters themselves- who imagined offing Ms. Bellum as “offensive” in the PPG back in the day, or that the Titans would have an episode devoted to waffles of all things, complete with a hyper-annoying song? Animation is an absolutely wonderful medium to tell stories in, but I’m sad when cringe-worthy pieces exist solely for turning a profit, which is entirely different from bad shows that were greenlit and simply flopped.

I’ll end by saying that I do like reboots or different takes on a franchise when they are done well. As I mentioned already, DuckTales 2017 looks amazing, and Hunter x Hunter is perhaps the best example anywhere of a marked improvement, further preserving the vision of the creator. It’s also my belief that there is no need for a retelling of a tale if the original product was already a memorable, well loved piece on its own, but it’s also true from movies to shows, people in entertainment can’t resist going back to the well, so to speak, in order to revisit successful ideas. If they really feel the need to do so, I’m always hopefully that the retelling brings a new dimension and exciting aspects to a franchise. Animation is no different in this regard. As a note to studios… please stop expecting to cash in on old classics without any effort, and understand that if you make a great product instead, the people will come.

Like what you see? Have any reboots in animation or movies you like or dislike? Leave a comment!

Author: anibproductions

I am the founder and writer of AniB Productions, currently a blog with a focus on animated shows from both the East and the West. Love Buffalo sports, good political discussion, and an interesting conversation wherever I go.

12 thoughts on ““If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”- a discussion about reboots done badly”

  1. It’s really weird seeing shows that I grew up with in the 90s and 00s have now been around long enough to justify nostalgic reboots.

    I don’t really understand why someone felt a Powerpuff Girls reboot was necessary, nor do I really understand all the hate it’s getting. Mind you, that’s mostly because I haven’t watched it, seeing no reason to do so. I mean, I guess I know that some people wouldn’t like it, but I never expected TTG level reactions from people. I heard what you and others have said about it, but it hasn’t really sunk in given that what little I have seen just looks like the old show but not as good.

    That aside I’m generally not to averse to the idea of a reboot as long as it A.) Is not largely a retread, and B.) is good. In fact if the concept for the reboot is interesting enough I’ll welcome it, and sometimes I just think some stories deserve to be revisited (partially why I’m not dreading a Gravity Falls something or other in the next decade or so).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent points. Having been born in the 90’s and growing up through the 2000’s, I’m not averse to a reboot either for the same reasons you listed; my issue is when a franchise is brought back solely for the purpose of greed without the charm and quality that made it good in the first place. It’s the same reason I’m very hopeful about DuckTales 2017… fresh approach that should be good. As for PPG, it was simply used to illustrate an example here; obviously you should form your own opinions about any show, but it was a strong case for the point I was making. That leads to my last point- rebooting a big franchise is always a risky proposition in terms of how fans will react. They’ll either love it or hate it, and there’s not much space in between from what I’ve observed and experienced.


  2. Actually the company that is probably engaging in the most cynical of cash-grab reboots is Disney, but on the big-screen as opposed to the small screen, and it’s probably going to get worse now that they have found out that they can literally just re-release the same movie but in a different medium (never mind that most of the characters are animated anyway) and make a boat load of money.

    I can’t imagine it will be too much longer before live-action The Lion King is a thing, how they do it is another question entirely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. There’s a desire to re-bankroll all the Renaissance-era animated classics once more in live action, and generally speaking, they’re inferior. I think I might write about the recent retelling of Beauty and the Beast soon in comparison to the 1991 film.


    1. It really is. I’ll emphasize again that it has no bearing on my opinions of the original (which are favorable); the best way I can describe the PPG reboot is “refreshed visuals with a totally different internal structure.” It doesn’t remotely feel the same outside of the (mostly) same cast, and those character themselves have been altered in a way that’s generally unflattering.


  3. Shame on you for hating Teen Titans Go, shame on you for being completely wrong about it and shame on you for saying all the mean, untrue things you said about that great show, Anibproductions! You should be ashamed of yourself! Start liking Teen Titans Go right now! 😡


    1. Hmm…the basis of all healthy debate is acknowledging people have different opinions. I can see you’re a) quite the fan of TTG, which is fine and b) quite adamant that I’m wrong in my opinion. Unfortunately, I’m not going to start liking a specific show “just because” and my argument is based on personal experience and observation shaped not just on TTG, but many, many shows in animation, from both East and West. My final thoughts on the show are this: it’s very, very successful from a commercial standpoint, probably does well in its target demo, but from a critical and writing standpoint- which is where I’m approaching it from- it’s relatively mediocre even for what it tries to do. All this means is that I have a different view than yours. You’re welcome to love the show if you wish!


  4. This rampant trend of remakes just needs to stop. It shows laziness on the creators’ side and is seen as a safe bet as opposed to creating original screenplays. A lot of these remakes aren’t as good as the originals and so many of them are cheap nostalgia grabs and filled with hubris.

    Disney is super guilty of this especially over the past few years. You know things got bad when they did a “live action” (I use that term very loosely) Lion King remake which thankfully got trashed by reviewers. That was stupid because there are no humans, they plagiarized from Kimba the White Lion whcih Disney still hasn’t owned up to it, got caught trademarking “Hakuna Matata” (because Disney is SO respectful to African culture [sarcasm]), and there was even The Lion’s Share documentary on Netflix that exposed how “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” legit ripped off the South African song “Mbube” by Solomon Linda.

    It’s no wonder I’m sticking to indie movies, international films, and more obscure movies or animation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. I’ve always loathed when perfectly good to great animated fare gets tabbed for the “live-action” reboot that’s unneeded, unoriginal, and with extraordinarily rare exceptions, always worse than the original.

      Furthermore, new original work tends to be the most exciting, especially when you can tell a creator put their heart and soul into it. That’s always worthy of respect and admiration!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely. There are so many examples of remakes that didn’t need to happen whether they are animated or live action.

        Exactly! I do applaud when people actually try to do something original. It’s what I do with my own books by having unique plots and characters. Okay, I do have analogs that are homages or stealth parodies, but that’s besides the point. Hahaha!

        Liked by 1 person

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