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Loonatics Unleashed is an American animated television series produced by Warner Bros. Animation that ran on the Kids' WB for two seasons from 2005 to 2007 in the United States, Teletoon in Canada, Kids Central (now known as Okto) in Singapore, Cartoon Network's Boomerang in Australia, Cartoon Network in the UK, Southeast Asia and Latin America, and XHGC in Mexico. It is still broadcasting on Clan TVE.
The series was loosely based on the Looney Tunes cartoon characters, with the series described by Warner Bros. as an "action-comedy." Loonatics Unleashed is meant to be a mixture of the Looney Tunes shorts' irreverent style of humor and a modern action animated series, with the characters designed in a different style. Loonatics Unleashed generated some criticism among various animation fans for its assumed reinterpretation of the classic Looney Tunes characters. The show received mixed reviews from critics, scoring about 5/10 on IMDB. The show was also greeted with criticism from audiences familiar with the original versions of the Looney Tunes characters; the show received 7.6/10 on TV.com.
Before its premiere on September 17, 2005, on Kids' WB, Loonatics Unleashed had a promo of the show air on network. The original trailer sparked controversy. When the harsher designs and dark setting hit the mainstream, Looney Tunes fans around the world complained about what they saw as an attempt to appeal to its demographic and utter disrespect for its source material. Specifically, detractors believed the idea to be a cheap "extreme" marketing ploy to appeal to a demographic at the expense of the classic Warner Bros. characters. Producers explained that Loonatics Unleashed is simply part of the Looney Tunes characters' continuing evolution in contemporary pop culture. Another issue arose with "Buzz Bunny," the original name of Ace Bunny. Dutch freelance designer and illustrator Metin Seven had copyrighted a character of the same name.
CBS News took a look at the transformation. Commenting, “Its official, Bugs and his pals are big updated, the new characters will be descendants of the old characters and we will be seeing characters like Bugs Bunny now Buzz Bunny and the other characters like Daffy and Road Runner have all had a serious upgrade...”
The following video also had short excerpt from the then head of Warner Bros. Animation discussing the change and evolution of Looney Tunes into Loonatics. Animation historians also commented, “If you drift too far away from the core of something, it’s bound to bounce back”. CBS News also went to parks to see what children and parents favored more, Bugs Bunny or Buzz Bunny (Ace Bunny prototype).
After complaints about the original preproduction character models' appearances, including an Internet petition of protest that was started by 11-year-old Thomas Adams, the producers of the series revised and softened the characters' appearances to make them appear less menacing.
Preproduction stage names for some of the series' characters were:
- Buzz Bunny - Ace Bunny
- Maxima - Zadavia
- Spaz - Slam Tasmanian
- Slick - Tech E. Coyote
- Roadster - Rev Runner
The Loonatics to Loonatics Unleashed
The following is an article from USATODAY.com that was published in 2005 discussing the then upcoming Looney Tunes spinoff, The Loonatics.
- What's up with futuristic 'Loonatics,' Doc?
- By Gary Levin, USA TODAY
- Published: March 9, 2005
- Howls of protest are surrounding Warner Bros.' plans to bulk up Bugs, Daffy, Taz and other legendary Looney Tunes characters as a team of futuristic fighting superheroes for fall.
- But Sander Schwartz, president of the studio's animation division, isn't sufferin' any succotash. "Anytime there is an effort to tamper or tinker with the icons of American culture, you'll find you get strong reactions one way or the other."
- Unlike other, less drastic reinventions of the beloved characters, who rocketed to stardom in the 1940s, Loonatics Unleashed has inspired a New Coke-style backlash. That's because its comic foils are being "reimagined" for Kids' WB as dark superheroes with swordlike ears and fists of fury (plus eyes with no pupils), set in 2772.
- Soon after word surfaced last month, purists pummeled the idea. Jimmy Kimmel called Loonatics "one of the worst things I've ever seen," hurling an insult that would make Granny blush: "Tweety Bird looks like a hooker from space."
- CNN's Anderson Cooper described a drawing of the new Bugs as "a wabbit you wouldn't want to cross, or even meet in a dark alley," and said he's "prepared to beg our corporate sibling Warner Bros. not to do this terrible thing."
- Regis Philbin swore off Bugs entirely — "I'm not going to watch him anymore" — while Diane Sawyer offered a more succinct "Huh?"
- But Schwartz notes that Bugs and his pals aren't vanishing, only sharing DNA with these new "descendants" being "added to the family." (And to the studio's merchandising machine, which often drives kids' programming.)
- Still, rival programmers are baffled. Cartoon Network's Michael Ouweleen says, "It seemed odd to use the wiseacre personality of Bugs" in an action series.
- Disney Channel president Rich Ross, who's reviving Mickey Mouse for a preschool series next year, says the issue is "being true to the characters. They cannot be genetically re-engineered in my book; you lose the essence."
- Kids' WB chief Betsy McGowen, who is battling a Saturday-morning ratings slide, welcomes the naysayers: "It's great we're getting all this attention."
- But as Harry Shearer (The Simpsons' Principal Skinner) told MSNBC: "These characters don't look like they belong on a cartoon. They look like they belong on stage with Kiss."
The following is from a 2005 New York Times newspaper that had an article on Loonatics Unleashed. The article discussed the controversy that rose following the original character designs and talked about what The Loonatics, now Loonatics Unleashed will be like in its final version.
- It's 2772. Who Loves Ya, Tech E. Coyote?
- By GEORGE GENE GUSTINES
- Published: June 6, 2005
- Four months after initial designs caused an Internet uproar, the final look of the characters in "Loonatics Unleashed," a new animated television series starring descendants of the stars of the famous Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoons, have been completed.
- "Loonatics Unleashed," which is part of the Kids' WB fall schedule, is a comedy adventure set in the year 2772. The series finds the Earth flung off its axis and protected by six superheroes, the Loonatics. The team comprises Ace Bunny (Charlie Schlatter), Danger Duck (James Marsden), Spaz B. Wilde and Tech E. Coyote (Kevin Michael Richardson), Rev Runner (Rob Paulsen) and Lexi Bunny (Jessica DiCicco). Warner Brothers Animation and Kids' WB are scheduled to announce the names of the characters and the voice cast today.
- "We're constantly looking for new and different ways to extend the franchises that we're fortunate enough to have in our library," said Sander Schwartz, the president of Warner Brothers Animation. "This is really a whole new show that tips its hat to the original Looney Tunes."
- The futuristic heroes have some very popular ancestors, who in turn have some very vocal fans. In February, when initial images for the characters were released, fans and the media reacted loudly. The designs were occasionally called sleek, but were more often described as dark and menacing in newspapers, including The Houston Chronicle and USA Today. One fan, Thomas Adams, an 11-year-old in Tulsa, Okla., started a petition at his school and a Web site, saveourlooneytunes.com, to protest the changes. "I wouldn't have anticipated the reaction, but fortunately, it was a good reminder of the popularity of the characters and the esteem to which our audience holds them," Mr. Schwartz said.
- "I think there was a misunderstanding," said Betsy McGowen, the senior vice president and general manager of Kids' WB. "They thought we were updating and changing the original Looney Tunes. We love Looney Tunes the way they are." She added: "We always thought of these as new and different characters. We always thought about this as an extension of the exciting brand, not a replacement."
- Warner executives had a different experience when "Tiny Toon Adventures," produced by Steven Spielberg, was announced. The reaction to the show was largely positive. The series was given a prime-time premiere on CBS in 1990, before moving to syndication. "Tiny Toon Adventures" was later broadcast on Fox and WB. The reviews for the series were favorable.
- In a preview provided by the studio, the animation in "Loonatics Unleashed" was like that of other WB series like "The Batman" or "Teen Titans," inspired by anime with a technolike soundtrack and bright, kinetic displays of action. That similarity is intentional, executives said. Ms. McGowen said the show was designed for children who have grown up on anime and to fit into the Kids' WB schedule, where it will be shown alongside "The Batman," "Pokémon," and "Xiaolin Showdown," among others.
- Ms. McGowen and Mr. Schwartz said the Loonatics have tested favorably with focus groups of the intended audience, children ages 6 to 11. The series's initial plans called for 26 half-hour episodes, spread over two seasons. Each episode will have an "A" and "B" story with "ample opportunity for comedic pauses," said Mr. Schwartz. One difference between the new and the original Looney Tunes characters is how they interact. "Unlike their ancestors who were rivals, they're working together as a team," said Ms. McGowen. Their powers will also be liabilities as much as assets.
- Consider Danger Duck, who can teleport but cannot necessarily control where he ends up. "Even though the characters are superheroes, they're not invincible," she said. Those sometimes faulty powers will lead to humor and some lessons. "They learn from each other," she said, "and they are empowering as a group and for the audience. Working with the descendants of such beloved cartoon icons is a lot of pressure, Mr. Schwartz said. "I think we're doing it right, but I'll be biting what's left of my fingernails between now and the premiere," he said.
- "Our hearts are in the right place," Mr. Schwartz added. "I hope that the audience and the critics and the people who were initially off put by the art they saw will come around and appreciate the show for its own merits."
Cast and Crew
Series Directed by
- Dan Fausett (10 episodes, 2005-2007)
- Kenny Thompkins (4 episodes, 2005-2006)
- Curt Walstead (4 episodes, 2005-2006)
- Andrew Austin (4 episodes, 2006-2007)
- Clint Taylor (3 episodes, 2006-2007)
Series Writing credits
- Rick Copp (13 episodes, 2005-2006)
- Len Uhley (4 episodes, 2005-2006)
- Steve Cuden (3 episodes, 2006-2007)
- Chris Brown (unknown episodes)
- Steven Kriozere (unknown episodes)
- Vinny Montello (unknown episodes)
- Christopher Painter (unknown episodes)
- Stephen Sustarsic (unknown episodes)
Principal Voice Actors
- Dan Castellaneta - Additional voices
- Bootsy Collins - Boötes Belinda
- Jim Cummings - Additional voices
- Kaley Cuoco - Weather Vane
- Tim Curry - Ringmaster
- Grey DeLisle - Apocazons
- Michael Clarke Duncan - Massive
- Jeannie Elias - Additional voices
- Bill Farmer - Mr. Leghorn (1st Time)
- David Faustino - Time Skip
- Vivica A. Fox - Black Velvet
- Mark Hamill - Adolpho
- Florence Henderson - Mallory Mastermind
- Tom Kenny - Gunnar the Conqueror
- Phil LaMarr - Drake Sypher
- Daran Norris - Alien Dad, Ralph Runner
- Khary Payton - General Deuce
- Cree Summer - Additional voices
- James Arnold Taylor - Bugsy the Bug
- Simon Templeman - Dr. Dare
- Serena Williams - Queen Athena
Series Produced by
- Haven Alexander/associate producer (26 episodes, 2005-2007)
- Ron Myrick/producer (26 episodes, 2005-2007)
- Sander Schwartz/executive producer (24 episodes, 2005-2007)
Series Original Music by
- Thomas Chase (26 episodes, 2005-2007)
Series Film Editing by
- Susan Edmunson (3 episodes, 2005)
Series Casting by
- Jamie Simone (26 episodes, 2005-2007)
Series Art Direction by
- Christian Tremblay (3 episodes, 2005)
- Yvon Tremblay (3 episodes, 2005)
Series Production Management
- Kimberly S. Moreau.... production manager (26 episodes, 2005-2007)
- Mercedes J. Sichon.... assistant production manager (26 episodes, 2005-2007)
- Jason Wyatt.... assistant production manager (7 episodes, 2005-2006)
- Andy Lewis.... production manager (4 episodes, 2005)
- Samantha Friedman.... post-production manager (unknown episodes)
Series Art Department
- Eric Clark.... prop designer (26 episodes, 2005-2007)
- Chris Duncan.... lead background painter (26 episodes, 2005-2007)
- Simon Rodgers.... background key designer (26 episodes, 2005-2007)
- Gary Montalbano.... background key designer (16 episodes, 2005-2007)
- Lance Falk.... prop designer / prop design (14 episodes, 2005-2007)
- Brian Johnson.... background clean-up artist (3 episodes, 2006)
- Eric Hilleary.... prop design / prop designer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Karenia Kaminski.... background clean-up artist / character clean up (2 episodes, 2005)
- David Manners.... prop design / prop designer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Dave Max.... prop design / prop designer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Layron DeJarnette.... storyboard artist (unknown episodes)
Series Sound Department
- Robert Crew.... foley recording mixer (13 episodes, 2006-2007)
- Timothy J. Borquez.... re-recording mixer / sound supervision / ... (2 episodes, 2005)
- Ed Collins.... supervising recording engineer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Michele Douglas.... adr supervisor (2 episodes, 2005)
- Kelly Ann Foley.... adr editor (2 episodes, 2005)
- Michele Garcia.... recording machine operator (2 episodes, 2005)
- Mike Garcia.... adr editor (2 episodes, 2005)
- Monett Holderer.... foley artist (2 episodes, 2005)
- Jeff Hutchins.... sound editor (2 episodes, 2005)
- Mark Keefer.... adr editor (2 episodes, 2005)
- George Nemzer.... sound editor (2 episodes, 2005)
- Preston Oliver.... recording machine operator (2 episodes, 2005)
- Chuck Smith.... adr editor (2 episodes, 2005)
- Thomas Syslo.... sound supervision / sound supervisor (2 episodes, 2005)
Series Visual Effects by
- Kyu Seok Hwang.... compositor (1 episode, 2005)
- Mi Ok Jeon.... scanning (1 episode, 2005)
- Byoung Ryul Kim.... compositor (1 episode, 2005)
- Eun Kyoung Lee.... compositor (1 episode, 2005)
Series Camera and Electrical Department
- Kang Ok Kim.... animation camera (1 episode, 2005)
Series Animation Department
- Walter Gatus.... character designer (26 episodes, 2005-2007)
- Mark Lewis.... designer: prop (13 episodes, 2006-2007)
- Grace Song.... animation intern (13 episodes, 2006-2007)
- Jan Browning.... animation checker / animation checking (3 episodes, 2005)
- Susan Burke.... animation checker / animation checking (3 episodes, 2005)
- Teri McDonald.... animation checker / animation checking (3 episodes, 2005)
- Justin Schultz.... animation checker / animation checking (3 episodes, 2005)
- Chris Aguirre.... character design / character designer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Andrew Dickman.... character design / character designer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Geno DuBois.... director of ink and paint (2 episodes, 2005)
- Chuck Gefre.... animation checker / animation checking (2 episodes, 2005)
- Janette Hulett.... animation checker / animation checking (2 episodes, 2005)
- Karl Jacobs.... animation checker / animation checking (2 episodes, 2005)
- Chuck Martin.... animation checker / animation checking (2 episodes, 2005)
- Salvador Martinez.... animation intern (2 episodes, 2005)
- Denise M. Mitchell.... animation checker / animation checking (2 episodes, 2005)
- Christian Nguyen.... animation coordinator (2 episodes, 2005)
- Rogerio Nogueira.... character design / character designer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Kay Park.... character clean-up / character cleanup (2 episodes, 2005)
- Erik Jan Peterson.... lip sync (2 episodes, 2005)
- Ann Sorensen.... color stylist (2 episodes, 2005)
- Walt Kubiak.... animation timing director (unknown episodes)
Series Casting Department
- Liz Carrol.... casting administrator (1 episode, 2005)
- Suzi Civita.... casting administrator (1 episode, 2005)
Series Editorial Department
- Myra Owyang.... additional editor (26 episodes, 2005-2007)
- Elen Orson.... animatic editing (13 episodes, 2005-2006)
- Christopher D. Lozinski.... on-line editor (3 episodes, 2005)
- Donnell Ebarrete.... assistant film editor (2 episodes, 2005)
- Tim Iverson.... vice president of post production (2 episodes, 2005)
- Jay R. Lawton.... assistant film editor (2 episodes, 2005)
- Michael Miscio.... post production administrator (2 episodes, 2005)
Series Music Department
- Bootsy Collins.... composer: theme (11 episodes, 2006-2007)
- Agostino Castagnola.... singer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Molly Pasutti.... singer (2 episodes, 2005)
Series Other crew
- Jamie Simone.... voice director (26 episodes, 2005-2007)
- Dane Taylor.... production technology (14 episodes, 2005-2006)
- Rick Copp.... story editor (13 episodes, 2005-2006)
- K.L. Connie Wang.... clearance administrator (11 episodes, 2006-2007)
- Hovig Alahaidoyan.... background design / background designer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Bonnie Buckner.... post production supervisor (2 episodes, 2005)
- Dan Butler.... business and legal affairs / lawyer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Megan Casey.... creative supervisor (2 episodes, 2005)
- Athena Christianakis.... accountant / production accountant (2 episodes, 2005)
- Margaret M. Dean.... production supervisor (2 episodes, 2005)
- Maurice Edwards.... background design / background designer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Samantha Friedman.... post production coordinator (2 episodes, 2005)
- Andrew Gentle.... background design / background designer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Marci Gray.... production administration / production administrator (2 episodes, 2005)
- Luisa Guzman.... accountant / production accountant (2 episodes, 2005)
- Toshiyuki Hiruma.... production supervisor (2 episodes, 2005)
- Bradford Keatts.... director of technical operations / supervising online editor (2 episodes, 2005)
- Michael Lalla.... business and legal affairs / lawyer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Tammy Middleton.... production administration / production administrator (2 episodes, 2005)
- Tamara Miles.... production administration / production administrator (2 episodes, 2005)
- Bonnie Negrete.... business and legal affairs / lawyer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Azariah Owens.... main title design (2 episodes, 2005)
- Tom Ruegger.... creative consultant (2 episodes, 2005)
- Alyson Ruppel.... production administration / production administrator (2 episodes, 2005)
- Howard Schwartz.... production supervisor (2 episodes, 2005)
- Peter Steckelman.... business and legal affairs / lawyer (2 episodes, 2005)
- Renee Toporzysek.... production administrator (2 episodes, 2005)
- John Voralik.... assistant production manager of technical operations (2 episodes, 2005)
- Amy E. Wagner.... production administrator (2 episodes, 2005)
The following is an excerpt from a recording session for “Secrets of the Guardian Strike Sword”. Featuring the talents of Jason Marsden, Rob Paulsen, and Kevin Michael Richardson.
Loonatics Unleashed had two animation companies working on the show overseas. These companies include:
- DongWoo Animation Co. Ltd an animation studio located in Seoul, South Korea. It has produced many animated series and films created and produced in the United States, Canada, South Korea and Japan.
- MOI Animation is a semi-recent, Emmy Award-winning South Korean animation studio established in 1998 as a spin off to DR Movie. The company is a regular with Japanese studio Madhouse (who also owns them) and American studio Warner Bros. Their style is mainly noticeable through "Shaky-Cam" action scenes and gratuitous amounts of CG animation.
- DR Movie is a Korean animation studio that was established in Seoul in 1990 and frequently works with Japanese companies on anime titles. Since 1991, the studio has been in an exclusive partnership with the Japanese animation studio Madhouse, and in 2001, Madhouse became a partial owner/investor. DR Movie also has worked extensively with Nickelodeon, Sunrise, Warner Bros Animation, Gonzo and Studio Ghibli.
The following is concept art that was made for the series. Concept art was done by Dave Max and Eric Hilleary.
This is some more concept art that was used for equiptment.
Concept art that was used for locations.
Concept art made by the lead character artist Walter Gatus. Some features early apocazoian art and Adolpho . It also includes the Loonatics in their battle suits. In the picture of Slam he is refered to as Spaz, his early production name. In addition, it has concept of inmates from Cape Duck and early designs of Electro J. Fudd's suit.
Some backgrounds of the show done by pencil, pen, marker, pastel, acrylic, and digital painter, Hisae "Jo" Watanabe.
Other production art.
Advertising for the premiere of Loonatics Unleashed was done by Kids’ WB. The advertisements were produced in the style of movie posters.
Little advertising done for Loonatics Unleashed while on air however. Aside from commercials, any other adverting was made for the Loonatics Unleashed DVD sets.
Limited merchandise was made for Loonatics Unleashed. Some of the merchandise includes a Ace Bunny statue and Danger Duck foam disk blaster. All of this was given away at the 2006 Comic Con.
Many posters were created during the show's run and can be seen below.
- Lead character designer Walter stated that the Loonatics in their battle suits would’ve made good toys.