Day 19 of the 30 Day Geek Out Challenge asks us to think about a series that we find underrated. I feel like this is an interesting question in this era of reboots and remakes, internet fueled hype, and rampant attempts to cash in on the nostalgia certain key demographics have for things they once loved. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, you better believe I’ve got an opinion on this one!
My nomination for this post is Exosquad. For the uninitiated, Exosquad was an American cartoon series that ran for two seasons back in 1993-1994. Set in the somewhat near future, a race of genetically engineered workers called Neosapians have rebelled against their human creators and made a surprise conquest of not only Earth, but also colonies on Mars and Venus. The series follows the adventures of Able Squad, an elite unit of soldiers flying mech-like battle suits in the battle to save humanity.
I absolutely loved this show as a kid and the line of really cool toys made for a nice upgrade from my Ninja Turtles as I got a bit older. The action and rich plot lines of the cartoon had me hooked and guaranteed to tune in whenever I could. It wasn’t quite like anything else I had watched at that point in my life in terms of story and tone and I think back to it being more stylistically reminiscent of the anime I would get into some years later than anything else in contemporary American animation (I’m apparently not alone in feeling this way). Many years later I would come to discover that it was rather well received critically as well, in particular for how it dealt with issues of prejudice, racism, war, PTSD, and justice. It also on occasion offered up shades of grey in the conflict, something very rare in the world of children’s cartoons at the time.
For reasons that baffled me as a kid, the series ended on a major cliffhanger and it wasn’t until much later that I read up on the abrupt manner in which it was cancelled. Surely this show deserved a better fate than that, especially considering the quality of the product and the relevance of its subject matter. I feel like I may not have many readers that get me on this one, but the ones that do are really going to.