It is common knowledge that purposely educational cartoons are often tedious and the format, plot and characters are usually insubstantial, which makes young viewers aware that they’re meant not to entertain but to inoculate an idea, and that is when they lose interest. A very well designed children’s cartoon, based on environmentalist views, was “Captain Planet and the Planeteers”, which not only raised important issues, but was also very captivating, reaching children from all over the globe. Created by Turner Program Services in collaboration with DIC Entertainment, two decades ago, in 1990, the first series enjoyed great popularity, resulting in the development of a sequel, “The New Adventures of Captain Planet”.
The plot is based on a team of five young people called the Planeteers, endowed by Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, with special powers through their individual magical rings. They can each use the force of a natural element to combat natural disasters, pollution and the villains who cause it. Together, they can summon superhero Captain Planet, by trigger the powers granted by their rings. Their names are Linka, Wheeler, Kwame, Ma-Ti and Gi, and their origins were specially chosen to represent major regions of the world.
Captain Planet himself rises from the earth as soon as he is called by the united group, and resolves situations that require more authority and buoyancy than the team could handle. He’s much more prevailing than the team put together, but represents their united efforts. Captain planet is not invulnerable however, as he can be destabilized by toxic waste. His catchphrase is “The power is yours!” which he uses every time his mission is finished and he returns to the earth. His words have a factual meaning (as team members lose their superhuman abilities when he is in action, and when departing, he returns the powers to them) and a symbolic one, addressed to the public.
The team’s leader is Kwame, whose roots are in Africa, as he spent the first part of his life with his tribe and now nears the power of Earth. Only 16 years old, he has a passion for botanic, as he loves plants and dedicates his time to studying them. A born organizer, he provides the group with encouragement and guidance in difficult situations. Equally calm, Linka is from Eastern Europe (originally the Soviet Union), and lives up to the reputation of her kind, being calculated, rational and straightforward. Her area of expertise ranges from computers to a comprehensive knowledge of bird life.
Her ring gives her the power of Wind. From the farther east, Southeast Asia to be precise, handling the power of Water, Gi is a 16-year-old teenage girl with an unbridled enthusiasm for marine biology, who is determined to save the sea life from chemical spillages and abuse committed by the powerful. With the power of Fire, Wheeler comes from Brooklyn, New York, and although he lacks in knowledge and skills, his good intentions and exuberance help maintain the team’s moral. As every group comprises an innate joker, within the Planeteers it’s definitely Wheeler. He is not only interested in saving the world but also romance, as he makes various attempts to persuade Linka to engage in a more than cordial relationship with him; he is however unsuccessful. The fifth member, Ma-Ti, comes from the Amazonian Rainforests (Brazil, according to some), and holds a power that is more linkable to human nature than nature in general and is called Heart, which is a symbol of universal love and compassion, which also define the team’s motivation.