This is another one of my favorite animated shows of all time, it's also another show that sadly has sailed under the radar. This show wasn't really overlooked it was a hit but as time went on it it's became another forgotten gem.
I really like the plotline, it feels like the kind for another "Legend of Zelda" game, just as Link has to find pieces of the Triforce, the heroes race against time and rival factions to find 13 treasures which can produce a power to save Mur from a mysterious lethal substance called Dark Water which is covering the entire world. You could say it's a bit of a save the environment type of plotline, but I like that, it's something different over the cliché take over the world, well ok they sort of have that with the main villain's plight but it's not the central plot. Saving the environment is important because we do need water to live, once it's gone, we go with it.
But mainly I love the fact that this is a fantasy that takes place in the high seas which I don't get to see much of in the genre in the visual medium except in Harryhausen films like "Jason and the Argonauts" and three "Sinbad" films. As well as the film "Pirates of the Carrabian". The ocean I feel is a rich area for fantasy because the ocean is vast, you never really know what your going to run into and find, which to creates a vast amount of possibilities.
The animation is great, I love both the character and the environmental animation. The character both human and non-human are unique and well structured. I how in the designs there is a bit of a sense of diversity which was also in the animated show "Conan the Adventurer" another underrated gem; this was unique at the time and I like that there not there for any PC (Politically Correct) bullcrap but there there because their actual characters. Action is very good; the swordfights are well choregraphed.
But I really love the world of Rule and its wonders, much like with the movie "The Dark Crystal" it all takes place in an alien world. I really love how richly conceived it is, as there are familiar and some that are strange and unfamiliar, yet beautiful, the background settings alone are worthy of the fantasy paintings of Boris Vajio. From the strange alien forest, creatures that occupy both the land and the sea, and plenty of other wonders that you just have to see for yourself which is part of the joy of this show, it really gives you the feeling of being a stranger in another world, this in a way is part of the true essence of the fantasy genre as part of its about exploring what is unfamiliar to the normal settings your accustomed to.
One of my favorite things are those ships where are awesome looking as their unique in design. From the bad guys show which is made of the bones of some sort of monster making the boat cool but sinister, down to the good guys ship which is unique in design as it looks a little like some of the sail boats from the ancient times long gone but there are certain things in the design that make it alien, which makes it all the more cool.
One of the things unique about it was it has a ensemble of characters voiced by a very good voice cast whom have a good amount of depth, each of them just like their journey develop a little more, there is even some mystery to them as we learn more about them which really added to the ongoing adventure and mystery of the show. Let along the plot of the show is ongoing and does develop. This was wasn't something at the time done much in animated shows let alone live action, though now is common place in shows like "Game of Thrones", "Stranger Things" etc.
Ren voiced by George Newborn whom is well known for voicing Superman in "Justice League" is solid, he's the typical young eager do gooder adventurer architype much like Luke Skywalker and Sinbad, yeah not a new trope but works all the same. I really like the depth on him, his origins are uncannily similar toward DC superhero "Aquaman" as Ren is the son of a lighthouse keeper much as Arthur/Aquaman is. And just as Arthur is the rightful prince/king of the sea, Ren is the rightful prince/king of a lost kingdom.
Though the two good guys that stand out for me are Tula and Io whom to me are the most interesting both have solid character arcs.
Tula voiced by Jodie Benson whom is well known for voicing "Ariel" from "The Little Mermaid" (yeah, I like that film) she was very good. Tula is another one of my favorite animated female protagonists as she's hot with the persona to boot. She is not just a skilled agile warrior but also she has some mystical powers, I like how her character throughout that part of the show has a bit of adjustment blues as she struggles to adjust and come to peace with this fact since she didn't ask to have them, which is understandable it's not a very comforting feeling when unasked for changes intrude upon what's familiar. This I feel also give the character a slightly vulnerable and human aspect showing despite how tough and powerful she may be, she's still human.
Ioz is my favorite character voiced by Hector Alonzo, really like the design of him as he's sort of a Mongolian version of Han Solo. Just like Han he a Merc that is more for himself, as he doesn't totally care about the cause or even the clients, he's escorting he just cares about the reward in the end. But after a while he warms up to his company and does slowly but surely begin to care for them and the cause, realizing that there really are things worth more than money.
Bloth voiced by Brock Peters, he's an honorable mention of favorite animated villains. Really like the design of him as he's true to his name in every sense. He's a villain you love to hate as he's menacing, ruthlessly determined and a little intimidating, I'll admit as a kid, I was a little nervous seeing him as he's the kind of guy you're not sure you could win in a fight with , as he's not just big in stature but has that really big sword that is bigger than Jason Vorhees machete. But what I really like about him is he's blackly funny, he has some memorable and funny lines.
The only bad thing was the voyage was cut short, which really sucks because there was so much more that could have been covered as not all the 13 treasures were found. We could have uncovered more about the character's past and how it correlates more with the plot. More character development and maybe even have some new characters join the crew of both parties. But also, the reason for the existence of Dark Water which we never know about.
Sadly, the only way this quest will be fulfilled is in the realm of Fanfic or if DC Comics decides to do a comic book continuation since they have the rights to Hanna Barbara, all the same it's a shame. Though I wouldn't mind a revival either in animated form or better yet live action, but make sure it's on a premium channel, and with the revival we could get a little darker, get more depth into the characters and the world they occupy. And put a reason for the Dark Water maybe a bit of a Lovecraftian spin where the water is part of the sign of one of the ancient evil gods awakening. These are at least thoughts to consider anyway.
Pirates of Dark Water is a hidden treasure worth uncovering.
Rating: 4 stars