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Animation as a Medium for Mature Themes

It’s 2019 and animated series and movies are finally tackling some more serious themes and ideas in their stories, but on the whole are still marketed towards children and younger age demographics. While I can appreciate exposing children to these kinds of stories, why are most adults still scoffing at the idea of watching anything that isn’t made with "real actors" when animation can sometimes achieve what the largest of special effects budgets can’t? It should focus on western media mostly, as I am already aware that anime has been doing this for ages already.

  • You bring up a great question, MissAila! I'm in my mid-40s, and I accept animation as a medium, but I know a few people in my parents' generation who will not watch animated movies. Those are solely for kids. And if they aren't for kids, then they are not only anomalies but abominations. I remember trying to watch the 1981 movie Heavy Metal when I was a kid, and my Dad was flabbergasted by it. He thought it was disgusting. I can only imagine his reaction to Netflix's Love, Death, and Robots, which is even more adult. So I don't really have an answer to your question, but I wonder if there is a generational difference and whether growing up with Saturday morning cartoons and Disney animated films makes a difference, too. – ChadW 10 months ago
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  • You bring up a very good point in the lack of animation as a medium for films/tv shows with a more mature setting. Perhaps people see it as a childish alternative to having actors portray something on screen (in terms of Western media), due to the fact that cartoons are mainly used to produce material with a target audience of children. It's hard to grasp that a medium with so much economic power in the East (namely, Japanese Anime) has little power to grasp audiences' attentions in the West. – davparth 10 months ago
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  • This is such a cool topic idea! I definitely think it's worth touching on "adult animation" that has been geared toward an older audience--think about the shows that have aired on Adult Swim, like Robot Chicken, the Boondocks, Rick and Morty, etc.--and also how streaming services like Netflix have tried to capture that niche as well with Bojack Horseman and Tuca and Bertie. Typically these shows use adult humor rather than darker subjects, but it would be interesting to see what you think might separate it from animation geared towards kids. – Eden 10 months ago
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  • I believe origin of animation as a medium played a huge role in it. Animation when it was initially made was a tiring process within itself it was almost impossible to include mature themes in animation in those days (given it was made in 1900's) and the imagery that was projected was cute, childish without much theme. This set the benchmark for most of the animation slowly people's ideology towards anime changed and people started felling animation was for kids(mainly because movies started tackling mature issues and animation remained as it was).In more recent times companies like Disney and Pixar had a lot of influence on animation they created family friendly animations(kids films) and channels like cartoon network, pogo, and other big names aired cartoon shows (kids films again) slowly creating the stigma that animation is a medium meant for kidsThough, really I loved your topic and the questions it raised I must point out that this is not entirely true yes, main stream animation is not very famous for portraying adult themes and yes adults think animation is for kids , due to rise of web streaming another kind of animation is slowly becoming more famous(The Rise Of Anime),a medium which was doing it since its humble beginnings.If you can dig deep there are many really old anime that are adult themed (hell lot too many).Upon closer inspection there are a very rare few European and american animations that dealt with serious political,Social themes and served as critiquesBut saying that it is also true that tough they were always there, they never got the mainstream attention that they are getting now . I must give you a thumbs up for thatAnyways great topic buddy – PSSRV 10 months ago
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  • Animated films tackling darker or mature themes isn't really new in my opinion, I think the difference is that they're more prevalent and more people are aware of them. Japanese animation is obviously far ahead than U.S animation in terms of tackling more mature subject matter, but U.S animation has had it too with Samurai Jack, Avatar TLA, Spectacular Spider-Man, The Boondocks, many of the Disney/Pixar films and a few Dreamworks films, etc.I personally find it very frustrating how much animation is looked down as by general audiences, especially by older generations, though they have somewhat more of an excuse. With that said, I think it's also close-minded to generalize an entire medium just because all what one was exposed to from that medium were low-quality Saturday morning cartoons.There's also the fact that there were and are people who expect all media to cater to kids and thus try to censor or restrict anything that doesn't fit their preconceived idea of "child-friendly programs", and animation (and comic books) received the bulk of this, in my opinion.– ImperatorSage 10 months ago
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