The Buzz On Chowder

Hungry for something new and refreshing to satisfy your animation appetite? Look no further – Chowder is here. Originally I was going to wait until I would eventually cover this program when going through a review of Cartoon Network’s programming, but at the current pace this blog is set at that could take me a year or more. And blogs, in one view, are used to keep up with current news and events. I just couldn’t keep quiet about Chowder, so here are my two cents about it thus far.

It’s hard to write a review about this show – because most of what I could say has been said by many fans already. Chowder, which made its premiere on Cartoon Network in November 2007, stands out so far from everything else in animation these days that it’s on another planet. It’s uniquely original in all aspects. It’s set up in a whimsical world of exotic locale, where you never know what will happen next. It’s styled so much more differently and doesn’t feel as it’s ever limited by what it can do. It has a funky soundtrack that keeps characters in tune. It’s creatively written and jumps from being very funny and cute, too being totally gross but not in an excessive way. It’s full of random moments that make it interesting to watch, and is scripted to be unscripted with many funny “in-between” moments. The characters are designed well and have distinctive personalities, and let’s just face it – Chowder is downright adorable to watch as he’s such an innocent and energetic character that feels real. Adding to the winning formula, Chowder has an excellent voice cast and all characters interact well. One of its best traits is its dialogue – it’s written to be amusing for kids, but has such widespread appeal older viewers can enjoy the show as well. At 22 I found the show to come off very entertaining, sometimes thinking to myself, “Is this really just meant for kids ages 9-12?” It’s got hilarious moments that would wholly go over many young viewers’ heads, and yet it still retains a playfulness and charm I can’t recall ever seeing in a cartoon before.

Chowder for me was a series of firsts. It was the first time I ever noticed voice acting before anything else, and that’s rare. I was very surprised to look up Chowder’s voice actor on the net, and to find he has little to no previous acting credits – and he voice acts like a pro! He brings such a youthful exuberance to his character and as a good voice actor should, makes the character come alive. I can’t imagine anyone ever replacing Chowder’s voice, so lets hope his young voice actor Nicky Jones can hold off puberty for as long as possible. Panini’s voice actress Liliana Mumy was an excellent choice, I love the persona she gives her character. Add that she has a long acting resume, minus that I’m sure puberty won’t effect her as much so she can voice Panini for as long as possible.

Chowder was also the first time I realized it’s been far too long since a cartoon was traditionally animated, something I thought I’d never see again. Could it really be the lost art of making cartoons is making a comeback? In a world of flat Flash and cheap 3-D CGI, the show racks up more points with me just for that fact its animated in traditional 2-D, but from what I know it’s in a digital format (Someone want to clear up what the exact difference is? Will cells exist? Or is it all done by computer?). The animation is fantastic. It has a large palette of colors that really gives your eyes a visual treat; its backgrounds are textured and extensively detailed to wrap the show in its own jokingly quirky universe. It also has good flow and motion as well, a trait I often search but fail to find in other shows that offer jerky and stiff character movements. Lips move well to the voices, and facial expressions are nicely exaggerated when need be, all the more adding to a character’s personality.

Chowder was also the very first time I went out of my way to see a new cartoon. And that really says something, moreover the fact because I’m out of the prime age range they are trying to reach. Cartoon Network’s productions eventually make it to air on Teletoon here in Canada, but it takes months for them to finally get here and by then we are so far behind our viewers in the US. But I just couldn’t wait. After seeing short clips of it on Youtube, I actively looked and found a download of the first four episodes. The picture and sound quality weren’t all the great, but the series was as good as I thought it would be, and it made me wonder where a show like this has been hiding for all these years. Comparing a show like this to anything else is almost criminal, but I’d put Chowder between a cross of SpongeBob Squarepants and The Ren & Stimpy Show.

Chowder is one hot dish of a cartoon right now. Since my discovery of it towards the end of 2007, I’ve seen its online fandom rapidly flourish in a short time in forms of fanart, websites, and various fan-made videos on Youtube – some of which have over 100,000 views already. What a handy marketing trick to get the show noticed even more. The show had high expectations when it came to premiere, and has already quickly become one of the network’s headlining series. I can only hope it continues to have the success its having this early on, as sometimes victory too early can result in expectations becoming too high far too soon. I sincerely hope Chowder doesn’t jump the shark that quickly, and that it lives every episode like it was its first. The worst thing that could happen to an original show like this is repetition in stories and character behavior, and I hope “Chowder/Panini” episodes don’t take over the series just to satisfy fans that want to see a couple together.

Chowder leaps out of the creative mind of C.H. Greenblatt, whose blog is linked here. You can find up-to-date information and media on the series there. A good review of the series from Toon Zone can be found here, as well as a cool fan-made flash video here. And please flame this reviewer off the face of the earth for stating the cartoon is a “throw away series”. It’s the exact opposite – Chowder has a winning recipe behind it, and when all mixed together creates a scrumches delicacy that will satisfy the taste buds and cravings for the true animation connoisseur. I hope to get my fill of Chowder when it lands on the menu here in Canada. Let’s hope it’s soon – because I’m starving.


Robert Peterson said...

Good review, Chowder is an amazing cartoon and I could tell before it even aired. The only problem is when you said the part about flaming that guy that wrote a bad review about Chowder. The fact is, that's his opinion. Although I think he's just jealous anyway.

Anonymous said...

you should put more (real)videos about chowder online so that people could watch it and have a great time!!!

Anonymous said...

Put more (real) videos online of Chowder, Chowder is so cute and the tastebuds from the puckerberry overlords are adorable.Someone should put pictures of the tastebuds online so that people could look at them.