REVIEW: ‘Animaniacs’ Season 2 Returns With A Mixed Bag of Mayhem

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Animanics Season 2

Animaniacs Season 2 is preparing to launch on Hulu after the animated series made its long-awaited return last year. The Warner siblings Yakko (Rob Paulsen), Wakko (Jess Harnell), and Dot (Tress MacNeille) continue to cause mayhem on the Warner Bros. studio lot and across the world. Speaking of the world,  Pinky (Paulsen) and the Brain (Maurice LaMarche) continue their efforts to achieve world domination; or the Brain does, at least. The new segment  Starblox and Cindy also continues as the diminutive alien conqueror attempts to escape the grasp of his five-year-old “owner.”

As with the first season, I had the chance to watch five episodes of Animaniacs season 2, and the highlight of the series continues to be the voice acting and animation. Paulsen, Harnell, and MacNeille have a firm grasp on the Warners’ family dynamics and character tics; Yakko is the jokester, Wakko has a gargantuan appetite, and Dot has a sardonic wit which is fully on display in Episode 4’s segment “My Super Sour Sixteen.” The same goes for Paulsen and LaMarche; you’d think by now the Brain would have run out of ways to try and take over the world, but you’d be wrong. The same goes for Pinky unwittingly impeding Brain’s progress, especially in an episode where he launches a YouTube channel.

The animation also continues to be fluid and springy, from the updated theme sequence to the various segments. This especially applies to Starblox and Cindy, which features a less refined style that feels like it was drawn by an actual five-year-old. All the colors are just as bright as a box of crayons, and Cindy’s cherubic features provide a sharp contrast to Starblox’s craggy skin and pale grey hue. Although the general conceit is still hewing far too close to Pinky and the Brain‘s setup for my tastes, it at least stands apart visually.

Where Animaniacs Season 2’s issues lie is in its various segments, which are hit or miss where the Warner siblings are concerned. The season premiere, “Rome Sweet Rome,” is a key example; it starts strong enough with the Warners playing citizens in Ancient Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero. However, Nero is revealed to be a thinly sketched caricature of Donald Trump, with all the jokes you’d expect from that setup. One joke even skews toward M.O.D.O.K. levels of risque; the gag is admittedly funny but skews more toward showrunner Wellesley Wild’s work on Family Guy than the clever wordplay that Animaniacs is known for. Ironically the show previously tackled this subject in the Season 1 episode “Warners Unbound,” even using the same setting, and did it far better there. Other segments, including an Animaniacs-inspired twist on Oliver Twist and a hilarious bit where the Warner siblings are pursued by killer spam mail.

The Pinky and the Brain segments fair far better, especially a segment where Brain uses a teleportation device that ends up fusing his body with Pinky’s. Not only does this lead to both mice taking on each other’s behavioral traits, but it also continues the slide toward Black Mirror-esque setups that Season 1 embraced. Granted, the show doesn’t get as dark as Black Mirror, but it’s a shift that makes sense, given Brain’s tendency to invent devices that are pulled straight from the depths of science-fiction. At times, I even found myself wondering how a new Pinky and the Brain show would fare — yes, the segments are that good.

Animaniacs Season 2 continues to boast fluid animation and stellar voice work, even if the humor in its segments tends to be hit or miss. If you enjoyed the first season, I think you’ll enjoy watching this one. And with a third season ordered by Hulu, the series can hopefully work out its rougher spots.

Animaniacs Season 2 will be available to stream on Hulu on November 5, 2021.


Animaniacs Season 2
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Animaniacs Season 2 continues to boast fluid animation and stellar voice work, even if the humor in its segments tends to be hit or miss. If you enjoyed the first season, I think you’ll enjoy watching this one. And with a third season ordered by Hulu, the series can hopefully work out its rougher spots.