But you can’t judge a book by its cover, dammit!
In actuality, the grave seriousness of Animorphs is what stands out most in my memories. This isn’t 10,000 pages of kids turning into butterflies. It’s a 10,000 page chronicling of war, and the central themes of the series are appropriately aligned with that subject matter. Once you’ve suspended your disbelief and firmly settled yourself into the bizarre sci-fi nature of the material, what you’ve got is five teenagers who struggle with things like dehumanization, the responsibility or leadership, sanity, insanity and morality. It is told with the horror of actual war, where the battle is not only physical, but mental as well. Is it right to kill unarmed enemies? Is it right to ask a team member and friend to carry out a dangerous mission? Is it right to retreat, to continue, to do anything?
Horrible things happen with surprising frequency in this series. Characters you’ve grown attached to have mental break-downs, crumble under the pressure, cease to be heroes. In fact, a lot of this series serves to debunk childish notions of battle and war as being something magnificent and heroic. The battles that are fought are not great feats or victories, but rather a series of jumbled, confusing actions that leave regret and sickness in the hearts of those who fought. Each decision, whether in the heat of battle or for the greater good, comes later to haunt the character who made it, and they forever feel the weight of their actions and their own short-comings.