The free willy cartoon is ecowonderful
Free willy was huge in the 90s, I don’t know why but this little Orca named Keiko captured my heart and every other kid’s in the 90s. I couldn’t get enough of Keiko. This didn’t only lead to the original Free willy film trilogy and later reboot but also an animated series. This is the 90s so they went with an ecological theme for the show and well you have talking sea animals. The concept itself is already an odd one for a movie but a full blown cartoon? I’m surprised to announce that it is actually a fairly decent show and in some ways better than the movie sequels the Free willy franchise got. So let’s say hi to our animated version of everyone’s favorite Killer whale. Sorry Shamu.
The theme is such a boring song for a cartoon and yet it feels liek it fits the world of free willy perfectly with its country like influence. This alone gets a pass and counting it was going against Michael Jackson’s Free willy theme I’d say that’s something. The premise of the show is sort of a sequel to the original movie, I think you have to assume those events happened though characters do act a little bit different. I’m guessing if there was ever a flashback episode events would be different but this never happens so yeah the movie is canon in a way. The premise of the show also does feel like from the two sequels so while I doubt the cartoon inspired the sequels it’s always neat to see how separate projects can have a similar premises.
You have Jesse who’s getting a job with Rnadolph, the one character who is in all the movies with Jesse and two original characters with Marlene and Mr. Naugle. They work at Misty Island Research Institute. YOu do have the evil bad guy for the show who is The Machine, but his alter ego is Rockland Stone. As the bad guy he is a whaler and half cyborg apparently because of something willy did to him and has become an ecoterrorist. He is rich and uses businesses as his alter ego Mr. Stone to do other nefarious stuff. He’s quite smart apparently since he can create pretty much anything the plot requires him too including sludge toxic blobs called Amphonids as his henchmen. Other characters include Lucille and Einstein a talking sea lion and dolphin.
When I say talking it’s not that they talk, only that Jesse becomes a Truth Talker, which means OMG he can now talk to sea animals including willy. “Oh you understand me now? wov” That’s an actual quote from the episode as if it were nothing. I liek that wlly has his signature three dots and his bent dorsal fin. what a weird concept of a show but as weird as it is It’s not too bad just dumb fun. It does have 90s cartoon tropes though nothing particularly horrible or great about it. It’s 21 episodes spread across 2 seasons I like that it makes no sense bu they make it work. It’s like a captain planet cartoon but less cheesy in a more ecological kinda way. The villain just hates willy and sea life and wants to pollute and get revenge.
The show can get dark as you see fish die all the time, hell in one episode a dolphin’s parents are murdered and we see how willy has to tell the baby dolphin and the camera pulls out only to hear the dolphin squeel in aguish, harsh. Even more since you know that most of these sea animals and fish are sentient creatures tat Jesse can talk to like aquaman. Yet they have no problem fishing or feeding willy fish. The others now Jesse can talk to animals as well. So yeah plenty of willy eating sentient fish with animals, why was that not explored? There’s a jaws episode with a shark that speaks like a caveman so perhaps not all fish are equally sentient.
Season 2 takes a different approach since now they’re actively going after the machine, and he doesn’t care to do things for profit now but for revenge only. Jesse is now on tour with Ben a new eco friend on the newship the Eco Ranger 2. They find the secret base of the goons and want to end them. Even more ecological. So the first season is more about the adventures in Misty Island while the second is adventures in the Artic. Be Shore does eventually leave halfway through the season sadly once he takes the protector of a mystical reserve which is a shame since he helped Jesse become a better character. The rest of the season is still good and better than the first.
There’s better eco themes and they’re better handled. I like the progress and in a way it’s a better continuation than the movies. The show has some progression so while not full on story arcs you see change.. It’s one of the better ecological cartoons despite it’s ridiculous nature and origin. I mean at the end of the first season you do see Mr. Stone get caught in a scandle only to return for the Season 2 finale. It would’ve been interesting to see a third season.