I was talking with my friend Claire, last night, and the discussion shifted – as it is only natural, between a man and a woman during a stormy summer night – to the Tarzan animated series from Filmation.
Called Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, and it was originally released in 1976.
According to my friend Claire, the series was horrible.
I beg to differ.
OK, granted – Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle had all the drawbacks of Saturday-morning cartoons.
Technically speaking, it suffered from a certain jerkiness of the animation due to the low frame-rate, and it featured a lot of recycled footage – the scene in which Tarzan vaults through the trees, the one in which he’s running, the croc sliding into water… we see them again and again.
But, again on the technical side, the look of the series is pretty good. The rotoscoped animation is always a pleasure, and the referencing of Burne Hogarth for the look of the characters and for the colors and intricacy of the jungle is a pleasant surprise.
One of the funny bits is, any viewer familiar with the Tarzan character from the movies will be somewhat baffled by the stories featured in the series.
Vikings? Amazons? Conquistadores?
And yet, this is Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan – and the jungle crowded with lost civilizations, ancient relics and people that time forgot is pretty much the standard fare ERB served in his Tarzan novels.
So, all in all, it is not really ghastly2.
Sure, the stories are somewhat formulaic – but so was Burroughs’ original narrative.
If possible, here the formula is let down by the brevity of the episodes, and by the obvious oversimplifications that were necessary to bring the story to the screen.
But all in all, it’s still a nice way to waste half an hour once in a while.
And a thousand times better – for my money – than the animated Disney version.
- and incidentally, I downloaded the Mangani vocabulary you can find here, and I’m trying to learn the lingo – it will look great on my CV together with English, Spanish, French and Japanese, and it is much weirder, nowadays, than Klingon or High Elvish. ↩
- and yes, young, Medieval-History-loving Claire, surrounded by Tarzan fanatics, was somewhat justified in her lack of enthusiasm. ↩