Lion-O, Cheetara, Panthro and friends will return in 2011, as Warner Bros. Animation announced today it has begun production on an all-new ThunderCats.
The update of the popular mid-1980s cartoon will air on Cartoon Network alongside such other Warner Bros. series as Batman: The Brave and the Bold and the forthcoming Young Justice and MAD Magazine. The "21st-century reimagining" of ThunderCats is a collaboration with Studio4°C, the Japanese animation house whose credits include Tekkon Kinkreet, The Animatrix, Batman: Gotham Knight and Halo Legends.
"In addition to being Warner Bros. Animation's first anime series, ThunderCats marks our most ambitious foray yet into fantasy," WBA's Sam Register said in a statement. "The realism and dynamic visual style we've achieved are sure to thrill viewers, and the cool weapons, vehicles and technology should help the show appeal to a diverse audience."
Produced by Rankin/Bass, the original ThunderCats aired from 1985 to 1990 and inspired comic books, action figures and other merchandise, as well as a long-discussed, but yet-to-be-produced, CGI movie. (Warner Bros. acquired the rights to ThunderCats in 1989 when it purchased Lorimar-Telepictures.)
According to Warner Bros. Animation, the new incarnation is "a sweeping tale combining swords and science and boasting ferocious battles with the highest of stakes" that focuses on the story of Prince Lion-O's ascension to the throne: "As the forces of good and evil battle each other in the quest for the fabled Stones of Power, Lion-O and his champions learn valuable lessons of loyalty, honor and mortality in every episode."
I'm not sure what the "valuable lesson" of mortality is, but the refugees from Thundera apparently will learn it. Only once, presumably.