“Jumanji” is No Game

The “Jumanji” animated series celebrates its’ twentieth anniversary

By Colin Hickson, Staff Writer

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Chances are that many viewers have heard of Adelaide Productions, as they gave many 90’s kids

shows based on movies, such as “Men in Black: the Series” and “Godzilla: the Series”. But

before those shows, Adelaide took viewers on a trip to the jungle in “Jumanji”, which aired on

UPN (now the CW) for its’ first two seasons, and in first-run syndication for it’s final season

from 1996 to 1999.

Despite being based on the 1995 movie of the same name, “Jumanji” has very little to do with

either the film or the original storybook, instead opting to tell its’ own story. As the series opens, siblings Judy (Debi Drewberry, more known as the voice of the eponymous main character on “the Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius”) and Peter Shepard (Ashley Johnson, aka the voice of Gretchen “Recess”) have just moved to the town of Brantford with their Aunt Nora (Melanie Chartoff, Didi Pickles “Rugrats”), and, naturally, are not enjoying the change. But

while in the attic of their new house, the two stumble across an old board game called “Jumanji”,

and decide to play the game. But with a roll of the dice, Judy and Peter are transported to a

bizarre jungle. It is here they meet Alan (Bill Fagerbakke who voices the character Patrick Star),

a player who has been trapped in the game since he was ten, as he never saw his clue. After a

rather hectic first encounter with the game, the kids decide to keep playing until they can free

Alan from the hellish world of Jumanji. And fortunately, they live up to their word in the series

finale, freeing Alan once and for all, and deciding to destroy the game.

jumanji-1From the first episode, viewers can tell that “Jumanj” is more of an in-name-only take on the

film, but that actually works in the show’s favor, as it gives the show its’ own identity. Plus, the

show did what neither the book nor the film did, by taking viewers the actual world of Jumanji.

And “hellish” is the most appropriate description for Jumanji, as this place makes Australia look

like Disneyworld in comparison! In addition to trying to solve the game’s clues, the main

characters must also contend with more aggressive versions of animals, despicable villains like

the sociopathic hunter Van Pelt (Sherman Howard) and other threats. It is also shown that the

game has sentience, and, like in the movie, can invade the real world.  As opposed to the book or

the movie, the series has a much darker tone, which is helped the character designs provided by

animator Everett Peck.

If the show does have a flaw, it is that its’ darker tone and more horror based tone could turn

viewers off. But for others, it can be seen as a decent take on a movie that forged its’ own

identity. The series is currently available on Hulu and iTunes, so if you wish to relive the

adventure, check it out…if you are game.