My Top 27 Western Animated Shows (#27-20)

Well I said I’d get around to it so here it is. I’m obviously more of an anime fan than I am a cartoon guy, but I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for western animated stuff, and especially good western animated stuff. I don’t know if I’d bother comparing any of these to anime (outside of the obvious) since that kind of comparison takes away from the shows themselves, but these are some series that I feel have stood the test of time or have a pretty good chance at doing so. As for the criteria,  it’s generally the same as my top anime list though entertainment value factors a bit more in here than story for some. Without further ado, let’s get started.

WARNING: There may be some spoilers about some of the shows on this list

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27) Teen Titans

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Synopsis: Within Jump City, five super powered teens, Robin, Cyborg, Raven, Starfire and Beast Boy form a group known as the Teen Titans. Together they defend the city from a variety of threats while also learning how to deal with each other.

Why I Like It: This show was a bit of an anomaly when it first came out as it never managed to fit into the DC Animated Universe (DCAU for short) despite the heavy prominence of those series at the time. Instead this superheroics with a weird anime-esque paint and comedy to match. The result was something that oddly clicked as despite it’s initial struggles with what kind of tone it wanted, it grew into a solid little series as it expanded on it’s characters and the story arcs gradually improved (and in some instances got much darker) as time went on.  Sadly kids are probably now more familar with it’s spinoff series, Teen Titans GO (which I don’t hate as much as everyone else, but has gradually lost it’s initial charm for me) but this show was unique as far as superhero stuff goes and still holds up as being a lot of fun

26) Static Shock

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Synopsis: After getting caught up in the middle of a gang-war and affected by a strange gas, Virgil Hawkins finds himself blessed with the power to control electricity. With his newfound abilities he adopts the identity of Static and decides to clear the streets of other affected superhumans called Bang Babies

Why I Like It: Growing up, I was (and still am)a big fan of superhero stuff, but as a black kid it was kind of disappointing never seeing any black heroes on TV aside from the Jon Stewart version of Green Lantern in Justice League. So needless to say a superhero show about a black kid like myself appealed to me and it helped that it was a pretty good show in it’s own right. It did a solid job of weaving together the classic hero tale with inner city issues, and while later seasons favored the former over the later it still managed to hold it’s ground throughout. To this day there hasn’t been another notable example of a solo black superhero show on TV and while I’d like to see that change sometime in the future if this is the sole example, it’s not so bad.

25) Megas XLR

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Synopsis: In the distant future , Earth is fighting a losing war with an alien race known as “the Glorft”. In order to save the planet, the human resistance steals a prototype giant robot from the Glorft  renaming it MEGAS . The idea is to use a time-traveling device called a time drive to send MEGAS and its pilot, Kiva, back in time to defeat the Glorift. Before the plan can be executed, however, an attack by the Glorft sends the now-crippled MEGAS all the way back to the 1930s. It stays in a  New Jersey junkyard until it ends up in the hands of a slacker mechanic, Coop, and his slacker best friend, Jamie, around the year 2004. Kiva goes back in time to retrieve MEGAS, and when she finds she is unable to pilot it because of Coop’s modifications, she grudgingly decides to train Coop, who is now the only person who can pilot it. However, the Glorft have followed her through time and, much to Kiva’s chagrin, it is now up to Coop to defend Earth from the Glorft and other various threats.

Why I Like It:  Genre parodies are a dime-a-dozen these days but an entire western show parodying japanese mecha is certainly something you don’t see every day and it helps that it’s actually pretty fun. It rips on various mecha series (never lasted long enough to get around to Evangelion but I can always imagine what that would have been like) but it also holds a lot of love for the genre as well.  Every moment that isn’t spent making fun of robot anime is spent showing why giant robots are awesome and that makes for a pretty awesome show unto itself in my book.

24) Danny Phantom

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Synopsis: So rather than sit here and explain this myself I’ll just let the theme song do that for you. Alright? Let’s move on

Why I Like It: Again I’m a fan of superhero stuff, and I also liked Fairly Odd Parents growing up so a superhero show by the same creator seemed interesting enough and for the most part delivered. Despite being much more of a comedy than an action piece the show does a pretty good job of portraying the old Spiderman superhero tale as Danny gradually matures alongside his powers and also displays a fairly interesting universe on it’s own. Sadly the show took a bit of step down thanks to a change in writers for the third season, but it ends on a pretty strong note and still makes for some good laughs and decent storytelling.

23) Xiaolin Showdown

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Synopsis:  Set in a world where martial arts battles and Eastern magic are commonplace, the series follows four young warriors in training that battle the forces of evil. They do this by protecting Shen Gong Wu (ancient artifacts that have great magical powers) from villains that would use them to conquer the world.

Why I Like It: Similar to Megas XLR being a parody of mecha anime this show is one to battle shonen and kung-fu movies. However more so than it’s saving grace being that it has a lot of love for what it’s parodying (which it does but that’s besides the point) what really makes the show work is branding together it’s comedy with solid character writing as the main characters (one in particular) grow quite a bit over the course of the series. The “sequel” Xiaolin Chronicles doesn’t really manage to capture the magic of the it’s predecessor (partially because it couldn’t decide if it actually wanted to be a sequel or not) but the original still has some magic to it.

22) The Legend of Korra

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Synopsis: 70 years after Avatar Aang defeated Fire Lord Ozai and restored balance to the world, the new Avatar, Korra travels to Republic City in order to find her place in the world. There she discovers a movement against benders, and begins the path towards carving her own legend as the Avatar.

Why I Like It: Speaking of sequels that don’t quite live up to their predecessors, this would be one of them. Though to be somewhat fair it comes off the heels of one of the greatest animated action dramas ever made so it had some big shoes to fill. That said while it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the original, it does manage to do some interesting stuff as it further expands on it’s universe and each season covers a variety of heavy themes (some more successfully than others). It also serves as one of the few male oriented action toons to feature a female lead (even if she isn’t written as well as most of the girls in the show that preceded her), and ended on a pretty famous/infamous note regarding her sexuality. While the latter will is what it’ll likely be remembered for it’s still a fairly good show on it’s own merits.

21) Star Wars Rebels

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Synopsis: Ezra Bridger is an orphan growing up on the streets of the planet Lothal. One day he encounters a man named Kanan and his crew of rebel mercenaries who fight against the tyranny of The Empire. Initially apathetic to their cause, Ezra soon finds himself involved with them and becomes a member of their crew while also training to under Kanan as an apprentice in order to one day become a Jedi

Why I Like It: So I never really managed to get into The Clone Wars series despite it being more popular both due to it’s first season being a bit of a turn-off, and my increasing frustration with the back and forth nature of Star Wars canon at the time. What sold me on this one though, was the involvement of Greg Weissman who’s made some of the best stuff here in the states, and he sure doesn’t disappoint with this one. While not as dark as the later seasons of Clone Wars it manages to get into some dark territory for it’s intended audience and manages to make each of the members of the rebels crew interesting characters with their own various backstories and motivations. As there’s only one season of it out so far, there’s plenty of room for it to go downhill but it’s off to a much better start than Clone Wars was for me and I think it might have the potential to become something really great.

20) Fairly Odd Parents (season 1-5)

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Synopsis: Again rather than waste time explaining it I’ll just let the theme song do the job

Why I Like It: Fairly Odd Parents is one of two Nick animated comedies to survive for an extended period of time (the other one I’m not a big fan of despite it’s huge pop-culture success, but I digress) and for good reason. It’s a pretty good comedy in it’s prime with plenty of good parodies, fun slapstick and pop-culture jokes that generally flies over the heads of the kids watching it. More than that though it’s also a pretty warm-hearted little show as Timmy learns various life lessons through his wishes and how to make the most of his miserable little life. Unfortunately the show hit it’s prime around the 5th season and later ones proceeded to descend into making the show a lot more mean-spirited, exaggerating the characters to the point of ridiculousness and constantly contradicting what little continuity the show managed to maintain. While the show as it is today is but a shell of it’s former self, those earlier seasons are still pretty fun to look back on and are quality entertainment for the most part.

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Next- #19-11

My Top 27 Western Animated Shows (#19-11)

19) Dexter’s Laboratory

DextersLaboratoryWallpaper1024   Synopsis: Dexter is a boy genius capable of creating the most wondrous of inventions in his giant laboratory. However his scientific pursuits are continually thwarted by his older sister Dee-Dee who annoys him at every turn and often destroys his creations Why I Like It: Series creator Genndy Tartavosky has a lot of love for classic anime and Japanese media and it shows in all his works. For this show in particular it’s a love letter to japanese mecha and sci-fi, continually parodying them throughout various episodes. It’s a really fun comedy and it’s easy to see where his later works like Samurai Jack and Sym-Bionic Titan got their influence as his style is very much present in this show despite it’s lighter nature and while the post movie seasons aren’t quite as good, it’s still earned it’s place as a beloved classic.

18) Clarence

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Synopsis: The show follows the adventures of Clarence Wendell and his two friends Sumo and Jeff as they get into various, and occasionally weird situations.

Why I Like It: Surrealism in animated comedies for kids is pretty much something of a staple at this point so a show that’s genuinely about regular kids living out their lives is something rare to come by and this show does it well. The show captures the spirit of childhood effectively and has an enjoyable cast of characters and some pretty fun stories to tell. It functions as something of a spiritual successor to Ed, Edd n Eddy and the Rugrats while it occasionally dips into surreal scenarios, it generally does a better job of keeping itself grounded than it’s predecessors.

17) Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes

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Synopsis: When the world’s most dangerous supervillains are released from prison, superheroes Iron Man, Wasp, Ant Man, Thor and Hulk form an alliance to re-capture them and form a team known as the Avengers.

Why I Like It: Marvel’s managed to turn their movies into a gigantic franchise, and general quality to match, but their success with animated works has always left something to be desired. This show however is a pretty strong exception. It breaks away from the usual mostly episodic storytelling of superhero action toons and weaves together lengthy storyarcs that make just about every episode significant later down the line. It also does a solid job of exploring the group dynamics of the Avengers as they slowly grow into an actual team and have to struggle to keep them all together. This is definently the best action toon I’ve seen from Marvel and it’s a bit of a shame it got replaced by the more lighthearted Avengers Assemble series, just to have something closer to the movies (thanks again Disney)

16) Hey Arnold

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Synopsis:  Arnold is a kid growing up in New York City and trademarked by his football shaped head. Together with his friend Gerald he helps various people throughout the city with their problems while also dealing with the local bully Helga who secretly has a crush on him.

Why I Like It: This is another one of those rare slice of life shows that tends to almost never exist in western animation. What separates this one from the others though is that it not only mantains a completely down to earth tone, but also puts a lot of focus on it’s character writing. It sets up a lot of good stories for each character of the week and while it never delves too much into actual drama it does manage to usually wrap up those stories in a way that’s satisfying. Sadly thanks to the movie being a flop, we never did manage to get that second movie that promised a more complete conclusion but what we do have is more than enough and there’s some inklings going around that the show may be prepping for a comeback so hopefully there’s some truth to that.

15) Batman Beyond

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Synopsis:  After years of being the Batman, Bruce Wayne’s age finally starts to catch up with him and he decides to hang up the cape. Decades later a young man named Terry McGinnis finds himself involved with Bruce after his father’s murder, and decides to take the Batman suit in order to find out the truth behind it. Initially reluctant to lend him help, Bruce eventually decides to take Terry under his wing and trains him to become the next Batman proper.

Why I Like It:  I have a pretty unabashed love for ol’ Batsy but the story of Bruce Wayne’s transformation has become something of a tired tale, and it certainly doesn’t help that across the various Batman stories that exist, his backstory is the one thing that always remains the same. Thus the idea of someone else taking up the mantle as Batman was pretty appealing to me even as a kid, and moreso when he was trained by Batman himself. The show came off the heels of the legendary Batman: The Animated Series, and though the writing isn’t quite as strong it manages to delve into darker territory (with Return of the Joker being the most infamous example).  Terry’s tale as the Batman is a pretty interesting one as he actually has his own character before wearing the mask rather than it defining  him so it gives him a much more manageable character arc. I’m still waiting for DC to make a live-action movie of it someday but in the meantime the show is pretty good stuff.

14) Samurai Jack

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Synopsis: Long ago in the distant past, Aku the shapeshifing master of darkness unleashed an unspeakble evil across the world. But a young samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose him. Before the final blow was struck however, Aku tore open a portal in time transporting the warrior to the future in which Aku’s evil is now law. Now the young warrior, taking on the alias of Jack, travels the world seeking a way to return to the past and to undo the evil that is Aku.

Why I Like It:  As I said before with Dexter’s Laboratory, Genndy Tartavosky’s stuff is pretty heavily influenced by japanese media and this show is the most blatant example, as well as the most iconic. It pays homage to classic samurai movies with each episode serving as it’s own mini film of sorts and each one delivering on quality action and direction (while also finding some clever ways to get around censorship at the time). The actual stated goal of the series is never really achieved (unless we ever get that movie Genndy keeps promising) but it certainly doesn’t need one to be enjoyed as it’s a purely episodic tale and each episode is pretty cool.

13) Courage The Cowardly Dog

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Synopsis: Eh, you know the drill

Why I Like It: So if you couldn’t already tell I like genre spoofs a lot and this show is one to horror series. It’s a really fun comedy that makes fun of the horror genre just as much as it plays it straight as some of the stuff in the show can be downright creepy (I mean seriously what IS that?). It also has the tendency to occasionally veer into heartwrenching territory as some of it’s stories occasionally ditch the horror elements in favor of more heartwarming or tragic tales and it all makes for a series that’s held up pretty well over the years.

12) Green Lantern: The Animated Series

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Synopsis: The series focuses on the adventures of Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of Sector 2814, and his partner Kilowog. Hal Jordan travels t “Frontier Space” the region of space at the edge of the Guardians’ territory, where Green Lanterns are being picked off by the Red Lanterns and they must make their return back to central guardian space to bring news of the threat

Why I Like It:  This show is a bit of an odd duck among the DCAU toons as it’s the least like a superhero show despite being based off of one DC’s most iconic superheroes of all time. Instead it functions as something more akin to a classic space opera anime with a few superhero trappings. This works out pretty well for the most part as it makes for a tightly plotted show and gives plenty of room to explore it’s characters as the crew members learn to deal with each other and their respective pasts. It’s also interesting in that it deals with the whole “tragic widower” thing that sometimes pops up in fiction in a way most tend not to as one of the ongoing elements of the show is one of the main characters Razer dealing with his desire to avenge his wife versus letting himself fall in love again. The show was technically cancelled but it ends on a strong enough note that you can mostly take the ending as is and be relatively satisfied.

11) Code Lyoko

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Synopsis: Jeremie Belpois, a gifted child attending boarding school at Kadic Academy, one day discovers a supercomputer in an abandoned factory near his school. Upon activating it, he discovers a virtual world and Aelita, a young girl trapped inside Lyoko. After unusual events begin to occur at school, Jeremie learns of X.A.N.A., a malevolent destruction-bent artificial intelligence/multi-agent system running on the supercomputer whose goal is to take over the world. Jeremie soon forms a goal to materialize Aelita into the real world and stop X.A.N.A. in his tracks. With the help from Jeremy’s friends and classmates, Ulrich Stern, Odd Della Robbia, Yumi Ishiyama, and Aelita, the group goes to Lyoko in hope to saves the world.

Why I Like It: As a kid, I mistook this show for an anime for the longest time until I learned what (theoretically) seperates the two and for good reason. This show is still probably one of the most heavily anime-influenced things I’ve ever seen and so much so that it even extends into it’s theme song (to be expected of a french cartoon I guess since anime is a much bigger thing over there).  As it’s something of a “Monster of the Week” show in structure what really makes it work are it’s characters. Despite adopting more ongoing plotlines in later seasons, it’s by and large a character show and the character interactions are usually great.  Though one oddly unique thing about it is thanks to the French creators being largely involved in the english dub’s production, pretty much all of the fanservice that was in the french version somehow made it over here, and it makes you wonder what the heck was up with Cartoon Network’s censors. Even though most of the episodes have the same structure it manages to avoid being too repetitive and having seen the whole thing through again in recent years, it still holds up surprisingly well.

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My Top 27 Western Animated Shows (#10-4)

10) Codename: Kids Next Door

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Synopsis: In a world of adult tyranny an organization known as the Kids Next Door, leads the fight against them. Together Numbahs 1-5 of the Kids Next Door’s Sector V battle against adult corruption and to make the world better for kids everywhere

Why I Like It:  So this one’s another genre spoof, and this time for secret agent shows. Similar to the others on this list it works pretty well as a comedy but it’s also interesting in that it actually starts to weave together several story arcs as it goes along and actually wraps up on a surprisingly serious note. Of course what really makes this show charming is that as much as it is a genre spoof it’s also about childhood and despite what it’s premise implies, doesn’t really gloss over the fact that kids can exaggerate how much adults “oppress” them and how silly they can be in general. That strange  yet enjoyable mix makes for one of CN’s best classics and definitely one of my favorites

9) Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated

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Synopsis: In the town of Crystal Cove a group of kids calling themselves Mystery Inc. dedicate themselves to solving mysteries. Unfortunately for them the townsfolk don’t actually want them to solve anything and instead treat them as outcasts. However when the kids uncover a secret that ties into the history behind Crystal Cove, they find themselves in a mystery bigger than they could possibly imagine.

Why I Like It: Alright so me and ol’ Scoob have a bit of mixed history. On the one hand I adore the original series from the 60’s for it’s campiness and some of the films that followed for putting either a darker or even sillier spin on things. On the other hand though, all the material that came during the “What’s New Scooby Doo” era was bland and managed to almost completely dull me to the franchise. However when I heard this show actually managed to veer into even darker territory than Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, I was intrigued and ended up digging this a whole lot more than I thought I would. This show deconstructs pretty much all of the things that have defined Scooby Doo as a franchise over the years and does a surprisingly good job of making an extremely interesting storyline, while turning the originally one note personalities of the Mystery gang into actual fleshed out characters. However despite it’s more serious tone, it pays homage to what made Scooby-Doo so iconic in the first place as much as it deconstructs it and the ending ties into the franchise as a whole in a way that has to be seen to be believed. On the downside the individual mysteries of the week are sometimes straightforward to the point of ridiculousness but the overall narrative is a strong one and managed to single handedly re-ignite my near dead love for this franchise (though it seems like the upcoming Be Cool Scooby-Doo may end up killing it again *sigh*)

8) Batman: The Animated Series

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Synopsis: Within the chaotic streets of Gotham City, the legendary caped crusader known as the Batman wages a one man war on crime. Also known to the world by his civilain identity Bruce Wayne, Batman struggles against a variety of villains as well as his feelings towards the death of his parents.

Why I Like It: So given my earlier rip on the Bruce Wayne story this may seem strange, but across the many animated incarnations of Batman, this show is the one that best gets his story right. While not as dark as it’s sequel Batman Beyond it more than makes up for it by really delving into the psychology of each of Batman’s foes and even Batman himself, while also maintaining an incredibly grounded tone for what was considered a kid’s show at the time. So much so that it actually was attempted to be marketed towards older audiences at one point but alas the curse of the Animation Age Ghetto is a strong one. Regardless this show is the pinnacle of the DCAU works, and still the one of the best Batman stories ever told.

7) The Powerpuff Girls

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Synopsis: Here’s another theme song for your troubles

Why I Like It: The Powerpuff Girls is a strange little show, simultaneously parodying superheroes and magical girl shows before the later was even on the radar of U.S. audiences. It managed to make itself into something of a cultural phenomenon (even spawning a series in Japan I wish didn’t exist) and in many ways was the real progenitor of “moe” in regards to Americans (sorry Bronies your show wasn’t first). Part of what really makes the show work is that it can switch from the girls being adorable to hardcore fighters at a moment’s notice and sometimes wielding both at the same time with makes for some great comedy when it hits it’s sweet spot. Of course it’s much more the former than the latter and can be genuinely heartwarming at times. It’s easy to see why this show is still fondly remembered even today and now that it’s on the crux of getting a revival hopefully the reboot sticks to what makes it work.

6) Adventure Time

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Synopsis: In the Land of Ooo, Finn the Human and his best friend/brother Jake the Dog go on adventures throughout the land. Each day is a new adventure and each more absurd than the last.

Why I Like It: On the note of weird things, this series takes the cake as it’s one of the most peculiar shows to ever exist. I don’t mean that in a “ha ha” weird way either (though it certainly does have that) but straight up legit weird. Despite having the trappings of an absurd comedy and more or less starting out that way over the course of it’s run this show has transcended it’s initial genre boundaries to the point where I’m practically convinced it’s become a genre unto itself. One things for sure though, there’s a method to this show’s madness and it spends just as much time being surprisingly compelling and at times touching, as it does reveling in how bizarre it is. The world of the series is a vast one and the show is also unique in that it actually does take the time to explore a lot of the characters in it, often times having episodes where the titular duo don’t even show up at all. This show managed to become something of a sensation, and it’s not too hard to see why as once you get past the initial weirdness it bombards you with, there’s something downright magical about it.

5) Rugrats

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Synopsis: Within a suburb town a group of active toddlers spend every day exploring the world around them. Together, Tommy, Phil, Lil and Chuckie go on a variety of adventures while trying to steer clear of Tommy’s trouble making cousin, Angelica.

Why I Like It: So Rugrats asks a question we’ve almost all considered at some point in our lives: how exactly DO babies perceive the world around them? The answer is undoubtedly different than what this show actually gives us but that doesn’t make it any less fun. This show has a blast taking the most mundane of scenarios and turning them into something exciting and fun when seen through the babies’ perspectives making for some cute little adventures. The core cast is extremely likable (hard to expect anything less from a show with toddlers as the main characters) and while the focus is generally on the babies, the adults actually do get an episode or two on occasion and generally avoid being too static. The series was Nick’s biggest hit before a certain other show came along, spawning  a couple of movies that made their way into theaters (with both actually being good oddly enough) and a sequel spin-off called All Grown Up. While the mediocrity of the latter has attributed to the downfall of the franchise in some ways, the original is still a great classic.

4) Gargoyles

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Synopsis: You COULD read a boring synopsis from me but why not listen to this sexy voiced narration instead (you’re welcome)

Why I Like It: As I said earlier, Greg Weissman is one of the greatest enigmas in western animation and this show is where he got his start. This show is dark in a way where you would almost never be able to believe it was produced by Disney of all companies but more than that this show is extremely…well…classy. It carries itself with a level of sophistication you’d never expect from kids shows on either side of the ocean. So much so, I’m convinced that if you made it into a live action series and changed nothing else about it in regards to dialogue and plot, you would almost never be able to tell it was a kid’s show. The characters all carry themselves pretty realistically (and features Xanatos, who is hands down one of the best villains ever made) and the ongoing storyline of the Gargoyles trying to adjust to the modern world while overcoming their past experiences with humanity is a fascinating one. It’s one of the most compelling action toons ever made, and one I’d even wholeheartedly recommend to die hard anime fans.

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My Top 27 Western Animated Shows (The Top 3)

3) Avatar: The Last Airbender

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Synopsis: This is the last time I’ll slack off with this I swear 

Why I Like It: Well we all knew this one was coming sooner or later since it’s pretty much impossible to have this kind of list without it, and for good reason. There’s not much I can say about this series that hasn’t been said dozens of times before (and better) but I’ll try. This show is a pretty blatant (though obviously more of a homage than a rip) western take on the action-adventure shonen formula that dominates Japan, and in many ways actually surpasses a lot of those works. The action scenes utilizing real world kung-fu in regards to bending makes for some cool battle choreography, though to be honest the action is far from what makes this series a stand-out.

What really makes it work are it’s characters and themes, though unlike it’s sequel Korra, the more tightly scripted narrative of this series allows it to make better use of both in a more meaningful way. While it’s far from a realistic depiction of war it does do a better job of delving into how affects those left behind by it a lot more than some of it’s contemporaries do and it also covers some interesting stuff in regards to racial propaganda and spirituality. At it’s core though it’s primarily a coming-of-age story for Aang as he grows into his role as the Avatar and the journey towards him fulfilling that destiny makes for one of the greatest animated works of all time.

2) Steven Universe

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Synopsis:  The world is protected from evil threats by the Crystal Gems, a group of intergalactic female warriors who use the power of special gem stones embedded on their bodies to summon magical weapons. Steven is a young boy who inherited a gem stone from his mother, a Crystal Gem named Rose Quartz. As Steven tries to figure out the secrets to using his gem, he spends his days in Beach City doing activities with the other Crystal Gems, Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl,  whether it’s helping them save the universe or just hanging out.

Why I Like It:  Given that the series creator, Rebecca Sugar was one of the best writers on Adventure Time before moving over to this show, I had pretty good expectations for it but I’m still amazed at how much I’ve been blown away by it. If Avatar is the ultimate western take on action-adventure shonen, then Steven Universe is in many ways, the ultimate western take on the magical girl shojo genre (albeit with a male protagonist). The show is filled to the brim with a cast of fun and extremely likable characters, all of them getting fleshed out in their own way and makes great use of it’s simplistic artstyle in addition to having a pretty great soundtrack. It’s narrative is also surprisingly more compelling than it would initially seem as the backstory of the Crystal Gems and Steven’s coming-of-age story tie together really well and manages to consistently succeed in making you wonder where it’ll all head next. However these are all just a portion of what makes this show so fantastic.

The real heart and soul of this show lies almost primarily in it’s emotional core. It’s a show that really gets emotional moments without having to blatantly manipulate the audience’s heart strings to do it, and consistently delivers on that front in a way that even anime fails to a lot of the time. Most episodes will have you walking away from them feeling warm and fuzzy in that regard and it’s that element which has allowed it to become a bonafide hit. As it’s still only in the middle of it’s second season there’s still plenty of room for this show to fall apart but it’s managed to knock it out of the park so consistently that I trust the show to keep on delivering, and I’m in this one for the long haul.

And now for the the #1…

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1) Ed, Edd n Eddy

Ed__Edd_n_Eddy__Poster_by_Insomniac1313

Synopsis: Ed, Edd n Eddy are a trio of pals with the same name growing up with the suburbs of Peach Creek. They spend their days attempting to con the other kids in the neighborhood out of their money as much as they do trying to fit in.  However failure is the name of the game for these three and neither ever goes as expected.

Why I Like It: So this as my #1 should surprise literally no one who knows me, but I’ve never really taken the time to explain why I have such an unabashed love for this show. Simply put Ed, Edd n Eddy is a show that is 100% straight up about pre-pubescent childhood. I’ve mentioned this element before in regards to some of the other shows at this list but EEnE has something special that really sets it apart from the mold. For the most part, media generally tends to look back on that stage of childhood with a sense of nostalgia. Sure you might occasionally get a story about a perpetually bullied kid every now and then but even those tend to have a fairly optimistic outlook more often than not.

Not so with Ed, Edd n Eddy for it’s here to remind you of one simple fact: your childhood most likely sucked. Kids can be cruel, often for the most simplistic and stupid of reasons, and Ed, Edd n Eddy manages to capture that aspect of childhood completely. Every character can a jerk in some fashion with no one ever being safe from abuse and it’s titular trio suffers far more setbacks than victories in regards to finding their own little place to belong.

However despite the level of sadism that would imply it’s also clear that the show doesn’t really hate any of it’s cast (and the fact that a good 5/6ths of them are heavily implied to have issues with parental guidance certainly helps things) and it does manage to capture the whimsical and fun nature of childhood just as often as it destroys it. While most of the characters are jerks, they’re also just as much relatable and it’s hard not to find at least a little bit of your self in some of them (well hopefully not the Kanker Sisters since I’d like to believe most people don’t have anything in common with serial molesters).  Also despite it’s heavily cynical nature it actually does manage to end on an uplifting note, but one that feels a lot more genuinely earned than most in regards to childhood stories. This series has endured over the years as one of CN’s most beloved classics, even managing to hold as it’s longest running show to date, and for me it stands as one of my favorite shows of all time.

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So there you have it. A nice tidy list of my favorite toons to go right alongside my favorite anime. Here’s hoping I don’t have to make any major updates anytime soon.

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