“We’re gonna be in trouble” with this Cheesy Cartoons look at Darkstalkers!!

What’s up J1 Fans! The weekend is upon us so it is time to sit back, relax, take a break from this whole outbreak thing and go on another trip down cartoon memory lane. Fighting games were reaching their zenith in popularity during the era of Arsenio Hall’s fist pump and colorful clothing that broke the sound barrier. A few forerunners of the fighting game revolution have earned the right of passage of being adapted into animated television series. Some good. Some bad. This is the latter. This is DevilDriver1313 and let’s pop in a quarter for a Cheesy Cartoons recap of Darkstalkers.

Darkstalkers is the animated series based upon Capcom’s popular fighting game featuring various monsters of myth and folklore – vampires, werewolves, succubus, and more. It was co-produced by Capcom USA and Graz Entertainment. It centered on a boy named Harry Grimoire, who descendant of the magician Merlin, who befriends the catwoman Felicia. Together, the set of an adventure to stop an alien invasion and make new friends along the way.

CHEESE FACTOR!! If you, like me, have had the unfortunate fate of watching this show as a kid then we have endured suffering together. What were we thinking? First of all, let’s get right to it with the characters. They look absolutely nothing like the games. The Darkstalkers game featured beautifully designed characters and artwork. The animated series cheapen their look, taking that beauty away. Morrigan is supposed to beautiful and alluring, young and fresh. So why does she look like an uptight nanny who bears a striking resemblance to Snow White’s Evil Queen? Demitri Maximoff is the vampire lord with an imposing appearance that struck fear into the hearts of men. So it was decided to give him a bad Bela Legosi impression and a California surfer tan? Really. The other monster characters have also been given extreme makeovers – i.e. Felicia outfit is less skimpy, Lord Raptor’s bone protrusions were removed and he was given a bulkier body, the mummy Anakaris had his intelligence dropped to infantile levels (although his appearance remained relatively close to the game). Darkstalkers animated series also changed the backstories of several characters, more specifically Morrigan and Demitri. Every fighting game fan is familiar with their history. Their families have been at war with each other for centuries with Demitri wanting to usurp the Aensland family so he can rule the Demon World. In the animated series, Morrigan is depicted as the descendant of Morgan de Faye and Demitri is a servant of Count Dracula, which deviates from the original source material.  

WHY WE WATCHED: For the same reason as any other video game-based cartoon, because it was cool to see those characters exist outside the pixelated world. Darkstalkers deviated from the video game so much yet we still came home from school, grabbed a bowl of cereal and popped down in front of the TV. The show’s comedic timing was terrible but there were a few moments that did hit. Maybe we watched it because it was bad.

Darkstalkers ran in syndication for thirteen episodes from September to December 1995. The series was received negatively, both as an adaptation and as an animated series, mainly amongst fans who compared the show to the production values of the original games, which are significantly different from this series, which is aimed at a younger audience than that of the original games. Topless Robot included Harry Grimoire, who “turned Capcom’s gorgeously animated fighting game into a cheap, unfunny comedy,” on their 2010 list of the 10 worst cartoon kid sidekicks. Rachel Jagielski of VentureBeat commented, “The plot is bad. But even more offensive than that is the shoddy animation.” Thankfully, Capcom realized their mistake with the American series and came out with the more worthy Japanese anime series, Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge in 1997. Still, for as bad as the American series was, it was fun to see our favorite Darkstalkers in action on TV screen…because it made us grab a fist of quarters and hit the arcade to see them in their true glory.

Clearly, the Japanese anime (bottom) is superior in every way to American cartoon (top)

Darkstalkers animated series gets a CHEESY rating of: