Granted The Karate Guard is not as abominable as the Gene Deitch cartoons, which ideally I pretend that they don't exist, and it is an improvement over the previous "modern" Tom and Jerry cartoon The Mansion Cat. However, I even prefer the worst of the hit-and-miss Chuck Jones output, and The Karate Guard sure doesn't compare to the classic(a vast majority of them anyhow) cartoons of theirs of the 40s and 50s. The best thing about The Karate Guard is the music, it isn't the most catchy music in the world but it fits well with what is going on, is orchestrated well and is quite upbeat. It thankfully isn't bizarre or too much like a dirge. Unfortunately the rest didn't do anything for me. And that is including the animation quality, everything felt rushed and in-your-face, for instance the colours are bright but not with much depth while the backgrounds have little finesse and elegance. Apparently The Karate Guard got an Annie nomination for Best Character Design, a nomination that I am personally perplexed by. I wouldn't say they're terrible as such but there isn't anything that leaps out as distinctive or memorable(even Jones' output had Tom's interesting Grinch-like facial expressions), with little attempt to stick true to the style of the 40s-50s cartoons and the characters lacking expression or fluidity, Jerry especially is far too stiff even for his character. For example when there's any kind of fast movement it is so quick and jumpy that it's enough to give you an eyesore.
On top of that, the story seemed rather muddled. I don't mind so much that it was routine, that is common with quite a few cartoons and they still managed to be entertaining. What did matter far more though was that it felt like two or three different pre-existing cartoons or ideas mixed together but with not much originality or coherence. The pacing wasn't so bad actually, most of it was solid and moved quickly, but it wasn't always consistent, there was a few lulls that slowed The Karate Guard down and quite badly. And nothing here is particularly funny. The gags are not that many, so if you're wanting laugh-a-minute quality you're watching the wrong cartoon, and what there is is not very inventive, well-timed or interesting. I don't think I ever really raised a smile or laughed, and this is coming from someone who has loved Tom and Jerry since forever and nearly always finds much entertainment in them. The two characters don't look or act the same and have no chemistry together, Tom and Jerry as characters are timeless as is their chemistry but due to the material they don't shine at all. The voice acting is okay but wasn't needed in my opinion. So in conclusion better than Gene Deitch's cartoons and The Mansion Cat, but a very underwhelming swan-song(for Joseph Barbera and Tom and Jerry theatrical shorts). 3/10 Bethany Cox
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