One of my earliest memories as a kid is constantly seeing Thundarr the Barbarian on TV back in the early 80s. From its spooky but awesome intro showing how the world fell into disarray mixed with science and magic, to the many adventures Thundarr and his friends would go on, I was hooked on it like most kids back then. Now fans new and old can see it in high-definition with the Thundarr the Barbarian: The Complete Series Blu-ray set. It’s 80s cartoon nostalgia at its finest and offers plenty of comic book-like adventures for all.
As the intro states in every episode, a runaway planet shoots past Earth in 1994 and destroys just about everything on it. Two thousand years later, the planet has changed to a weird mix of mythic primal forces such as magic and monsters, but also has some modern science and technology as well. While most people and creatures fight to survive by any means, one man means to bring peace to the world and right any wrongs he comes across. This man is Thundarr the Barbarian.
With his magic Sunsword (clearly inspired by the lightsabers of the classic Star Wars films) and his friends Ookla the Mok (inspired by Chewbacca from Star Wars I’m sure) and Princess Ariel who can wield magic, these three set about helping those in need while also fighting against evil villains they come across. Their greatest nemesis however is Gemini, a literal two-faced cyborg sorcerer that can swivel his head backwards to switch between a calm but evil face, and a more aggressive one.
All 21 episodes of the show are here and look and sound better than ever thanks to the awesome high-definition transfer. It was so much fun watching the series all over again this way as everything feels brand new as the show has never looked this clean or had audio so impactful. I was even shocked to find out there’s a special feature included called “Lords of Light: The Story of Thundarr the Barbarian”.
This short but very entertaining and informative featurette has the famous Ruby-Spears team, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, along with some animation historians discussing the series creation and how it paved the way for other similar shows (*cough* He-Man). It also didn’t hurt having famous comic artists such as Alex Toth and even Jack Kirby on board to do the artwork which pushed the show to be ahead of its time, but maybe it did hurt some as all of this greatness eventually led to it being cancelled.
Children of the 80s and those who love shows from that era will want to pull out their Sunswords and brave some demon dogs to pick up Thundarr the Barbarian: The Complete Series for their collection. It’s one of the best animated series from back then and basically sums up the fun and imagination of the time as well. Just be careful, as watching this will have you hopping on a horse and yelling “Ookla! Ariel! Ride!” in no time.