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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that that the most notable aspect of this early-'90s cartoon is that it centers on a respectable hero who's appealing to both kids and parents. Adventure-loving kids (especially boys) will be drawn to Conan's physical strength and indomitable spirit, and parents will appreciate the fact that he's got a strong sense of right and wrong and looks beyond race and class divisions to seek out allies who share his values. What violence exists is mostly downplayed and, compared to modern action cartoons, is fairly tame. Primitive weapons like swords and whips are used mostly defensively, and injuries are rare. In the end, what will make an impression on kids is Conan’s determination to save his family and his willingness to risk his own safety to stand up for those under tyranny's thumb.
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What's the story?
CONAN THE ADVENTURER is a '90s-era action/adventure series set in the fictitious ancient land of Cimmeria that centers on a young warrior named Conan (voiced by Michael Donovan) and his efforts to defeat a powerful cult leader who has trapped his family in a spell of living stone. Armed only with a sword crafted from meteorite matter that has mystical powers, Conan faces his archenemy, Wrath-Amon (Scott McNeil), and his legion of Serpent Men, who are after the Star Metal themselves to set free their long-imprisoned god, Set. Conan is joined in his quest by his trusty horse, Thunder; his reluctant phoenix guide, Needle (Michael Beattie); and an assortment of allies he meets along the way.
Is it any good?
Much like He-Man before him, Conan's appeal lies in his strength of character, which draws like-minded allies to him and sends the message that nice guys can finish first. Though these qualities likely aren't what kids will notice, given the hero's physical strength and skills with a sword, rest assured that the show's messages about fairness, respect, and determination are bound to stick with viewers long after the story's end.
Of course it's tough to tell a quality tale of good vs. evil without some clashes between the warring parties, but even in this regard, the show goes the extra mile for kids' sake. Rather than celebrating battles of brute force, the fantasy-based story plays up the mystical nature of a powerful but mysterious substance that trumps every physical weapon, which translates to few visible injuries or deaths. Need another reason to like it? Because the storyline is progressive rather than beginning anew with each episode, it encourages kids' retention of major plot points from one viewing to the next.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about heroes. What qualities define a hero? Who are your heroes? Do you feel differently about heroes you know on a personal level and those you admire from afar?
Kids: How do you deal with adversity? What struggles have you had with peers or with authority figures? What gives you strength when you're facing a difficult situation?
In what ways does this series differ from more modern action series? How is the animation style different? Are the villains any more or less menacing in current shows? How do the shows' messages compare?
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