Ah, the nineties. What a wonderful and weird period of our history. Collectively filling out neon color, popularizing the glow stick, bringing the Looney Tunes into space, and oh so much more. There are periods and portions of the nineties that have stood the test of time with films like Pulp Fiction, Schneider’s List, Silence of the Lambs, Braveheart and the list goes on. Then you have some things that are just a product of their time. Sometimes that’s not necessary a bad thing. Nostalgia can unleash memories of simpler and happier times. Though, the bigger question still remains: does nostalgia hold up like Hannibal Lecter or deserve to die out like a glow stick?
Enter the simple town of Fission City. Fission is a rather simple city that serves as the backdrop for the 90s’ cartoon, Street Sharks. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to be breaking down the world of this beloved 90s season. Ultimately asking the question, does it hold up after all these years. Street Sharks was a cartoon that ran from 1994 to 1997 and was based on a Mattel line of toys from the same name. Even from its opening theme song, you can tell that this show was basically a giant toy commercial at launch. If you don’t believe me, peak the theme below.
In its first season, which launched a mere three episodes, Street Sharks gives us the origins of the pavement destroying heroes. A bio-engineer named Dr. Bolton attempts to stop his colleague, Dr. Paradigm, from performing cross-species experiments on humans. Bolton is forced out of the picture and in turn the very experiments he was aiming to stop turn his sons into the group known as the Street Sharks. The Street Sharks are half man and half shark. Throughout the duration of the first season, these now-hybrids are merely looking for answers as to where their father has disappeared to. All while trying to stop the evil Doctor Paradigm and his nameless hybrid henchmen.
There are certain periods of animation that are just so distinct they are instantly recognizable. Hung in the balance between richness and warmth, Street Sharks definitely has that mid-90s feel to its animation. As we continue to grow in animation advancements, it’s a nice change of pace to experience the rich depth of animation that Street Sharks swims in. Complete with a darker color palette, Sharks uses its darker tone to establish more vibrant colors and give them a more satisfying pop.
While the animation is rich in its depth, the plot is filled with more holes than the street where these sharks swim. I appreciate the story never truly trying to find the character of Dr. Bolton, leaving the door open for a more satisfying plot point. The story is already too busy enough without the father story arc thrown in. A lot of the plot holes seem to come within the quartet of main characters. In one sequence, they are brothers trying to solve the mystery of what happened to them and how to fix it. The next, they are welcoming their new hero personas as they set out to prove their innocence. Now that their heroes, they need new names right? This is a plot point that’s addressed with one brother but all four of them magically get new names.
For the most part, the plot is pretty straight forward. Brothers become mutants and now have to stop bad guy. The action of the series is pretty refreshing for a children’s show. There are a lot of points within the series that allows the story to breathe. Giving the heroes a secret HQ, transportation and more. Just seems a shame they took their time on some portions of the story, while rushing others.
Overall, Street Sharks: Season One, is a mixed ocean of nostalgia and structure. Showcasing amazing animation that goes as deep as the ocean itself. Not to mention, astonishing fight sequences that lay foundation for the series between antagonist, Dr. Paradigm, and the protagonists the series is named after. A muddled plot and misguided details though, prove that blood could be in the water for these mutants.
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Credits: Video Intro by Dallas Mora. Street Sharks is property of Mill Creek Entertainment and DIC. We do not own nor claim any rights. Thanks to Mill Creek Entertainment for making this video and post possible. To pick up a copy of Street Sharks: Complete Series for yourself, click here.