If you're a '90s kid, you're probably stocking up on Orbitz, 3D Doritos, and Ring Pops in preparation for the Animaniacs reboot coming next month. Yakko, Wakko, and Dot—a.k.a the Warner Brothers (and Warner Sister)—will even retain their old voice actors in the 26 new episodes set to hit Hulu.
Not everything about the Animaniacs reboot is being recycled, however. The animation has a freshened-up (but still familiar) look that was explored in detail at the Ottawa Int'l Animation Festival on Friday. The panelists recall how several different artists and studios were invited to contribute potential new designs for the Warners, including Studio MDHR, the makers of 2017's Cuphead.
As you might expect, Studio MDHR's contributions are very expressive and rubbery, much like the character designs that make Cuphead so distinct (as well as the Max Fleischer cartoons that inspired the game). There are two exceptions: A submission in which the siblings are angular, and another wherein they're literally three cats with cartoon attributes drawn on their faces. No doubt a joke submission, but one I'd like to see come into realization, nonetheless.
Studio MDHR's bendy-squashy iteration on the Warners won't show up on the TV screen next month. The final designs are courtesy of animator Genevieve Tsai, whose work is inspired by Tokyo Movie Shinsha's (TMS) designs for the '90s Animaniacs characters.
TMS is still well-regarded for the quality animation it produced for many western (well, "western") cartoons in the '80s and '90s, including some eps of Animaniacs. TMS also produced several episodes of Inspector Gadget, The Real Ghostbusters, and Batman: The Animated Series. There are several famous anime movies under its label as well, such as the celebrated Lupin III movie, The Castle of Cagliostro. The Castle of Cagliostro was directed by the legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki before he left to form Studio Ghibli.
The new Animaniacs is being produced in several studios across Canada, the Philippines, and South Korea. Our friends at Studio MDHR never got its "in," but at least we know the new design for the Warners is inspired in all the right ways. Goodbyyyyyye, Nurse!