The Jumanji Cartoon is the best interpretation of the franchise
Jumanji was a movie that I absolutely loved as a kid and could not get enough of it, the ending made me want to watch a sequel which I guess we eventually got with either Zathura or Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle but a little late in the timing for me. However the original Jumanji movie did get an animated tv show that while I didn’t really get to watch as a kid I did know about it and it did end up lasting three seasons and amounting to a 40 episodes. So, how was this Jumanji series?
This show reminded me a lot of the Beetlejuice cartoon with the travelling to the world instead of the world coming out like it was in their respective movies. The cartoon is set in a different continuity from the movie but it works with mostly the same rules of the game; It’s actually set up in a perfect way that it makes a show out of the movie idea and it never feels like it wasn’t meant to be a show, great way of changing the premise without altering the basics.
The show actually has a nice premise of Alan trapped inside the game and the kids Judy and Peter have to try to get him out. Instead of Jumanji bringing the game’s world into real life, each time they play the players get a clue and get sucked into the game. Once there they have to solve the clue to be able to escape. That’s were they meet Alan who never saw his clue so he can’t get out.
Each episode is about learning a lesson for the day but there is actually some continuity in the show which is nice since it’s not all just a random adventure of the week. The Jumanji world is fleshed out and the game is actually sentient, I like that it had a lot of interesting new characters added to the mythology and it doesn’t overuse them. The show has many interesting characters that you wish to learn more about, some you do but some you don’t; The skull guy who was the embodiment of the rules of Jumanji was my favorite too bad we didn’t see more of him but the other recurring antagonists were just as great.
In the beginning there is a gag of Peter turning into different stuff like he did in the movies but this only lasted for a while, we also have the manjis which their bacground is expanded a lot through out the show. While the cartoon is indeed a bit cheesy with their lessons of the day, it still worked. The characters act like kids which counting that they all are including Alan who never had adulthood so it’s fine even if they likely didn’t intend that but their own rules actually explain away any poor characterization.
Of course, the cartoon still has plenty of inconsistencies with the rules and some characterization but overall the show is really strong. the last episode is basically a clip show which is a bit disappointing but in its defense it at least it gave a conclusion to the show unlike many other shows at the time which never got a real ending.
The show is very 90s but that is not a bad thing, I would’ve loved to have seen it as a kid. If you liked Jumanji at all and feel like knowing a bit more of the universe, this is a great show to check out.