Top SciFi Cartoons
ExoSquad was probably the first really compelling, complex cartoon series I had ever watched when I first discovered it as a teen in the 90s. There’s a reason for that, since it was an American response to Japanese anime. The show follows Able Squad as they attempt to retake the Earth from the invading Neosapians. In addition to have long stretching story arcs, ExoSquad introduced complex themes. For instance, the Neosapians themselves are a slave race that revolted against their human masters. I’m still bummed this series never got a second season.
Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles
If like me, you think the movie adaptation of Starship Troopers was a travesty that didn’t begin to dig into the more compelling elements of the book, Roughnecks is for you. Featuring all the cool stuff the movie skipped over, such as the powered armour and the drop ships, this scifi cartoon offered a much more compelling take on Heinlein’s story. It’s just a shame it never found an audience.
Star Wars: Clone Wars
I really wanted to avoid including scifi cartoons with major franchise tie-in’s on this list, but to be honest, it would be a disservice to Clone Wars if I didn’t mention it, since it really is good and should be judged on its own merit. For one thing, while the prequel movies tended to be more kiddish (not necessarily a bad thing) Clone Wars gradually moved towards darker, more mature themes. In addition, rather than using seasoned writers of animation, the makers brought in writers of such shows as Lost and The Wire.
Despite being cancelled on Fox this scifi cartoon came back and returned stronger than ever. It’s a hilarious show but what really sticks in my mind is its vision of the future. Rather than being a truly dystopic future, or even a grand Star Trek-like utopia, New York is pretty much New York of today, just dialled up to 11. Corporations rule, bureaucracy and global warming are still just as prevalent today as it is for Fry in the 31st century.
The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers
When everyone else was watching Bravestarr, I was watching Galaxy Rangers. The series followed a group of space rangers (like Texas rangers but not) keeping the peace and protecting new colonies from marauding outlaws. Along with a killer theme song, Galaxy Rangers packed tons of action and the occasional complex story, without the obvious “trying to sell toys” shill that most other 80s cartoons were guilty of.
Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
Okay, I admit,t his series was fairly cheesey, with it’s space wizard, plant girl and obviously Han Solo-esque pilot, but I still loved it. It followed Jayce Lightwheel as he searches for his father so they can save the galaxy from the evil Saw Boss and the Monster Minds. I realise I’m not doing a very good job selling it, so here I shall try better. Three words: J. Michael Straczynski. That’s right, the Babylon 5 creator actually wrote a good number of episodes of Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors including, alas, the unfilmed finale.