Review: Animaniacs reboot enters the 21st century

The 90s show gets revamped for 2020 and manages to fit right in


Photo Hulu

The promotional poster for the 2020 reboot of Animaniacs, featuring the Warner siblings (Yakko, top left; Dot, top right; and Wakko)

Zoe Thaxton, Staff Writer

Cartoons are the staple of many peoples’ childhoods. They bring back so much nostalgia and memories when people are rewatching them. So when a reboot is announced, fans grow quite concerned that the new version of the show won’t capture the same feel the original had.

Animaniacs, however, goes above and beyond a stereotypical cashout reboot and manages to keep hold of many of the key elements that made the show have character during its original run.

Animaniacs is an animated cartoon that originally ran from 1993 to 1998, but just recently came out with a reboot version on Hulu. Now, I only saw one thing from the original Animaniacs, which was “Yakko’s Countries of the World” song, but I’d heard many good things about it from the internet and my older brother who grew up watching the show. Thus, my expectations for this show were good… and I wasn’t disappointed. I laughed and was thoroughly entertained.

Animaniacs primarily follows the Warner brothers, Yakko and Wakko and their sister, Dot, on all sorts of crazy hijinks adventures. They’re “zany to the max” and cause all sorts of mischief in different plot lines during different times periods (like the French Revolution) or take on some sort of journey in their own modern day time.

There is another segment called “Pinky and the Brain.” This follows two lab mice, trying to take over the world every night. “One is a genius, the other’s insane” is the tagline for this segment and perfectly captures both characters; hopefully it’s easy to assume which stereotype fits which mouse. It’s a nice little break between the Warners’ segments.

I adored this reboot and found myself rewatching the 20-ish minute episode over and over due to how invested I got. The plots were so simple, but easily grabbed my attention.

This show had no shame in mocking reboots in the very first episode, and didn’t even leave itself out from the mockery. It set a great precedent for the rest of the twelve episodes.

There have been complaints that the show is trying to be too “politically correct” and “need to stop with all the political references.” For example, in the theme song, there is a new lyric change to “gender balance, pronoun neutral and ethically diverse.”

Firstly, anyone who complains about this show being “too political” obviously hasn’t seen an episode from the 90s. Those episodes are riddled with political references, and most famously, the theme songs remarks about President Bill Clinton playing the sax. Second, the show depends on being modern to have its witty jokes, fourth wall breaks and allusions to the world around them.

Personally, I don’t mind the political jabs or “modernizing” the show. I find humor in mocking politics. I understand it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. And the modernizing of the show? It’s a reboot! It needs modern humor to keep up with modern audiences!

The reboot did cut many segments they had from the 90s like Slappy the Squirrel, The Goodfeathers or Mindy and Buttons, but their absence doesn’t affect me. When I think of Animaniacs, I think of the Warner siblings, so the cuts didn’t bother me—perhaps it may have bothered older fans.

Now was this reboot necessary? Truly, is any reboot necessary? Technically no. Yet, Animaniacs did what many reboots couldn’t: capture its original feel. Being modern is important in reboots, but if the show is too modern, it doesn’t feel like the original. If it’s not modern, it won’t please the audiences or critics. The Animaniacs reboot shows that not all reboots follow a systematic formula to please modern audiences and can keep some of its original feel while adding new things to it.