Alright, first off? Thanks so much for opening this thread first of all, I'm basically brimming over with love for this show. After watching SWAT Kats obsessively as a kid and then taking a 15 year break before rewatching it as an adult, I was really
stunned by how much I took out of the show this time around. I had some heavy retrospect/appreciation whiplash when I realized just how much the show's cast influenced and inspired me to become the gal I am today, and how much the second season's animation, the show's music and dark atmosphere inspired my art (and tastes) as an adult.
Not to mention the series totally BAMF vibe
One theme I'm going to really drive home in this reply is that ultimately, what struck me overall with SWAT Kats this time around is just how anti-establishment
the show was for it's time. And I mean beyond the generic "vigilante" trope that sings that tune to begin with. And beyond how much this show seemingly wishes it could swear,
man have I never
heard a kids cartoon sling so much
"crud" and fake swears. All the way down to the other characters, and the (now classic) rock/metal music that signified the soundscape of the series in a time when so many hard rock/metal bands' music was banned
by Congress and not allowed in circulation. The SWAT Kats burst out on the cartoon scene when it was obviously controversial for its time, leading to being put in low-ratings timeslots to not offend parents concerned that violent cartoons were corrupting "today's youth", which impacted toy production... leading to the studio losing money making the show and it's abrupt cancellation. The anti-establishment nature of the series in it's 80s/90s contemporary setting comes out through and through in a way I basically love to shreds.
"Who says we can't fight City Hall?"
As you've watched the show over the years, do you ever find yourself identifying with or appreciating characters that you didn't when you were younger?
Oh yeah, with a lot of the characters. I ADORE T-Bone full-heartedly today (and can even "get" his enjoyment for Scaredy Kat--that docked a lot of points from me as a kid) and really appreciate the depth that he has as a character, and even Jake's own enigmatic makeup of even-tempered reservation juxtaposed with reckless daredevil rebellion. Chance gets more attention than Jake does in the character development area, but what's left unsaid about Jake has me fairly interested and speculating on his person.
"Razor, t-they're shooting live ammo!"
"Hey, it wouldn’t be a real test without some
Feral and the Enforcers definitely embody "the establishment" in this vigilante show, and are mocked as such by our underdog heroes with sassy remarks and by showing them up; a recurrent "stick it to the man" theme throughout the series. Despite how obvious the purpose of Feral and the Enforcers are
in being created to fill that role
in this story as a foil to the heroes, the writers still gave a micro view of the most recognizable faces of the "status quo" (Feral and Felina) humanized dimensions as characters instead of leaving the "police force" of MKC a complete caricature of a laughingstock military. Fan-fav examples include Feral's integrity in light of his less favorable traits and antagonistic role, and Felina rebelling within
the establishment (even having the audacity and guts to oppose her commander uncle when she doesn't agree, dang) while using the best of what it can offer to get the job done.
"I don't deal with scum."
"So deal with this!"
Dark Kat is a villain type that I haven't really seen since
him, the closest I can come to comparing him in recent years would be some of the villains in Venture Bros when they do their honorary throwbacks to classic cartoons. I'm still trying to piece together my understanding of Dark Kat from a contemporary cartoon retrospective xD I’m dying for a cartoon history nerd Dark Kat break-down xD
Also, what even IS Dark Kat? Necromancer headcanon: activate!
The Metallikats were always amusing as villains, but the lack of their brand of oldschool gangster banter in mainstream media since then really packs a nostalgic treat. Felina Feral and Turmoil, and even the "hey, you can't break a story without breaking a few rules" Ann Gora all had perceptible impact on me as I grew up xD The feminist leanings in that show really galvanized my own rebellious attitude in the face of the claustrophobic conservatism that I had to face growing up to an extent I didn't recognize til I rewatched SWAT Kats. Looking back, I'm super grateful for that!!
Felina, it's cool, we all know the party doesn't really start without you.
I oddly identify with and appreciate Callie Briggs more. The joke that she basically "ran the city" behind an incompetent, figure-head mayor wasn't lost on me as a kid, but really struck a much deeper cord as I got older. 20+ years ago it was still fairly controversial for women to be in positions of political power in a social/political settings (and as much progress has been made, still
is) and to me, not only does Callie's position as Deputy Mayor scream progressive, but also actually running the city
really strikes me as one of the strongest underlying "stick it to the man" statements the show made in the historical/social context of feminism in the real world.
“Manx hasn’t done an ounce of paperwork around here for years. I
turned down your paroles, bribes and all.
let us rot
inside that prison?”
"That's right sister, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
The fact that Callie's duties aren't officially substantiated with a position AS mayor when the incompetent Manx is in charge really strikes a bitter historical chord of how many far-more qualified women wind up taking back-seat to men in positions of power who either squander or abuse it, or get passed down to the less deserving male candidate because he'll be taken "more seriously" as a leader than a woman. But the situation is still handled with humor, and not only that, but Callie isn't bitter or
out to prove a point. She sets an example I looked up to instead, and still admire. She shows up for the greater good and takes action, rather than getting caught up either apologizing for her power, or her helplessness when the odds are against her. She is down to earth, simply takes charge as she sees fit, and has the guts to toss her courageous sass even in the face of death.
Callie utilizes her freedom within her limitations as Deputy Mayor, has progressive and humanitarian views (I'm skipping the cat puns here) and rebels against the status quo within
the establishment by being an accomplice to the SWAT Kats, and by being a woman in power trying to make changes to a system begging for an upgrade.
And she’s even good with money!
Have there been specific plots, actions or quotes that make more sense to you now than they did at first? Conversely, are there characters you now appreciate less than you originally did?
Some of the jokes. The "looks like Feral hasn't hit the litter box in a week" and the prune donut joke xD Chance and Jake ARE immature in the best way,
impling that Feral is just a grouch cuz he's constipated (cough full of crap cough)
I basically spit up my drink with laughter when I re-heard some of those old lines, and basked in the appreciation that I'm old enough to catch witty poop jokes now, apparently
"We swear we're really adults. Honest!"
Also Razor's "Who says we can't fight City Hall?" (anti-establishment again) is hilarious to me today xD And COUGH, T-Bone's "I can do more than talk
tough" line in Cry Turmoil does noooot sound like he's only referring to planting bombs on her airship. Cough.
There was a straight up double meaning in that one xD
“I put a bomb in your oven too, baby”
I still don't quite get what "Down these means skies. A kat must fly" means tho. Dunno if I’m missing a comma or am just missing a reference all together, or what. I never really grasped that one. It sounds poetic but awkward xD Or I'm 20 years slow. Help, anybody?
“Down these means skies. A Kat must fly.”
"WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?"
For me, I've grown to appreciate the SWAT Kats immaturity and rebelliousness from a viewing perspective, as I think it really distinguishes them from other protagonists in other similar series. They don't have any lofty goals, and they're motivated almost purely out of spite, exhibiting a refreshing level of pragmatism in how they conduct their vigilante activities. They're unapologetic, and in many ways "normal." Elsewhere I've commented on how I appreciate the "blue collar junkyard tech" aspects, and also stated how I solidly believe they're a good example of anti-heroes. Despite the over-the-top universe, my suspension of disbelief is always maintained because as characters they feel real to me.
I love the note that they're motivated by spite, though I'd add that it seems that over the long haul, they stay motivated by their long-standing ideals for the common good and how they wish to envision themselves and take charge of their lives, and a refusal to be put down and deal with the unfair hand they were given.
"This time, we do it our
I like how they don't pursue their activities with this "cheap thrill/rush" crap that I see everywhere in modern media daredevils, either. I don't doubt it's there xD But it's never romanticized or specifically draws attention to itself, which is refreshing!
And dude, I totally
agree with you 100%, they are
anti-heroes <3 Feral is right, they are
criminals, but criminals in a system that's too inept to deal with the world as it's become and the obstacles they face. It's a system that needs
vigilante criminals. "Screw the law if it doesn't work" is an attitude the SWAT Kats totally exemplify (and that I personally love)
and they do it in the most convincing combo of ridiculous hero-fare, down to earth "normalcy", and realistically competitive bromance I've ever
seen in a crime-fighting duo. In fact, outside of SWAT Kats, I don't think I've seen that dynamic pulled off so well, anywhere.
“We wouldn’t want to break any laws
“Well, no more than we already
Lastly, this show makes fun of how "the system" doesn't really work and how you really can't justify, from a macro view, putting down the vigilantes... because the system as-is is
too ill-equipped to deal. I think my favorite overarching dynamic in the show is the dance between vigilantes and the establishment--they both want peace and stability for the people and to eliminate threats, but despite conflict over legality and social/political mores, they both need each other
to safeguard their common interests until or unless
the system changes. It's not directly stated in the show amidst all the guff the "underdogs" and "the establishment" gives each other…
“The Enforcers will never
be able to handle those
to save the Mayor and Miss Briggs! But as usual,
you two are just
in the way!”
…but it's clear that the Enforcers aren't just
a laughingstock compared to our vigilante anti-heros. The SWAT Kats need
the Enforcers just as much as the Enforcers need the SWAT Kats to protect Megakat City, even when it's barely acknowledged on either
"Thanks to the diligent effort of my Enforcers…And with some minor help from the SWAT Kats…"
Because of this, I believe that if there ever was a thematic
ending to this series, it would have come from a solid resolution on both sides of “good” against the ever-present threats of "evil" against their world.
"Yeah, glad to see you too, Commander."
Whew. Well, that was the longest post ever xD I could really go for a can of milk...