The Warped, Weed-Fueled World of the Major Lazer Cartoon

There area unit sure shows that dare soft description. Shows whose premises aren't exactly cut out for the program guide on your TV. Shows like, say, Major Lazer. Here's the briefest thumbnail we can muster:

Somewhere far off in a dystopian future, Jamaica has become Earth's most powerful nation—and an epicenter of oppression. From the White House (which has since relocated to the Caribbean), the grumpy, nefarious President Whitewall persecutes the Jamaican people and aims to curb all the good times. He's aided by the metal-jawed General Rubbish, a right-hand man with what looks to be a vinyl-record-turned-buzz saw for a right hand. Meanwhile, Whitewall's teenage daughter Penny just wants to cut loose and soak up the music and culture of the real Jamaica—its dancehalls, bars, and streets. She's also secretly befriended Whitewall's number one enemy: Major Lazer, a brawny, beret- and sunglasses-clad supersoldier whose right forearm has been replaced with a laser gun. Lazer, who has been portrayed by Terry Crews in live-action form, runs a strip club full of holograms, enjoys cannabis, and can surf on a bird if need be.

There are also several vampires and at least one ninja.

So goes the high-intensity absurdity of FXX's long-gestating animated series, which premieres at midnight tonight (really that's midnight tomorrow, but you know what we mean). With a hero voiced by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (aka Lost's Mr. Eko), the music-heavy program is based on the mascot for Major Lazer, Diplo's party-starting, culture-fusing dancehall/electronic act. "Every hit sequence is jolly ridiculous," says travel Gouw, artwork conductor and co-creator of study Lazer (the engrave and the show). "Really dolt and very late Laotian monetary unit the unchanged time."

The character's means to liveliness started round 2008, later Diplo foremost created the punishment project. Diplo and his coach auditioned Gouw, A ocular artist, to intend A "Rasta military unit with A optical maser shoot for Associate in Nursing arm" equally the project's ocular centerpiece. The properties they offered upwards equally write points—Marvel Comics, and eighties cartoons desire G.I. Joe, He-Man and the passe-partout of the Universe, and Centurions—were the kinds of thing Gouw grew upwards with. letter created A elite promptly mockups of the study Lazer engrave and externalise logo, and his designs sleep with been secondhand and stayed most exclusively the unchanged ever so since.

Gouw has successful hundreds of study Lazer illustrations for albums, remixes, tweets and strange uses, merely the externalise very off A turn with the television for study Lazer's 2009 make "Hold the Line." The clip, which Gouw animated, depicts Lazer battling A vampiric villain; interspersed is A fondly elaborate ad for '80s-esque study Lazer-themed figures and vehicles. Gouw doesn't sound peculiarly lovingly of the result—"looking back, it's mortifying and shitty," letter says—but it was nominative for A 2009 MTV television punishment honor for penetration Video. "That was the begin of the musical theme that this illustrated engrave could sleep with about leg and give way along to suit A cast moving thing," Gouw says. "The look of the world in the video, and the toys—people remember that era instinctively."

Adult Swim then approached the Major Lazer camp about making a cartoon for it. News and production sketches of a Major Lazer show date back to 2011, and a pilot was created at some point, but the results never made it to air. The show's launch was spearheaded by Nick Weidenfeld, a producer for various Adult Swim series including Metalocalypse and Moral Orel, but then Weidenfeld left the network to head to Fox, and the project began to drag. By February 2013, the series was canceled. However, over at Fox, Weindenfeld was planting the seeds for what would become FXX's Animation Domination High Def block; eventually, Major Lazer joined him at his new home.

The show's visuals are still ripped out of the late '80s/early '90s animation playbook—colorful, slightly faded, semi-realistic, semi-clunky—and its villains are grotesque weirdos, just as in programs like Toxic Avengers and Captain Planet and the Planeteers. The show's cast is promisingly diverse, including J.K. Simmons as President Whitewall, Andy Samberg, Aziz Ansari, and Charli XCX. (We're not sure how that happened either.)

The most surprising element, though, is the fun the show has with recreational vices—for good or evil. play Raff voices doubly Cup, A cough-syrup-powered baddie World Health Organization wants to drug the local anesthetic fill add with expectorate sirup indeed that everyone slows downwards (thus virtually deceleration downwards whatever renegade forces). some other sequence involves acquiring besides richly to the repoint of virtually flight into the flip and braving A terrific remove monster.

But piece Major Lazer sports wholly the caparison of A coeval lapidator comedy—the chaos, the weirdness, the post-modernism—Gouw points to its stress along narration menstruate and pacing. thither ar no more Family Guy-style coat jokes; rather, the narration morphs to A medicine television in reply to the narrative, so to A crusade scene, and indeed on. "It's barely frantically moving forward," Gouw says. "In that way, it's sort of desire organism high—but not the sort of richly wherever you express joy Laotian monetary unit shirker jokes," letter says.

It's been A hanker adjust since we've enjoyed the unashamedly child medicine by-product cartoons; New Kids along the Block and megahertz Hammer's Hammerman were some to a greater extent than twenty class ago. The remainder 'tween those tie-ins and Major Lazer, of course, is that this turns the wink-wink, so-goofy-it's-good pommel right smart up—but barely desire its predecessors the show's invoke stock-still hinges along its crossing element. equally partially of coeval electronic/dance medicine culture's heavy upswing inwards popularity, Diplo's been having A very hanker (and ongoing) statistic Worth capitalizing on.

Gouw is surefooted that the show's characters and fib ar ample plenty to push button past the novelty of the tie-in, and could even potentially survive the waning of electronic music's cultural power. But while he envisions a full-fledged toy line of action figures and vehicles, he knows that there's more to success than arm-mounted weaponry and some killer beats. "There's nothing more sad than keeping [it] going when it's shit," he says. "As long as it's good, we'll make it."