Animation

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Perception of Animation in the U.S

Despite its innovations and endless creativity, animation has and continues to be dismissed by general audiences as only suitable for children in the U.S. While there are many historical and industry reasons for this, animation has proven itself to be a legitimate medium just as any other, whether in the U.S, France, Japan, and through other platforms such as Newgrounds and YouTube.

Companies such as Netflix and Sony Pictures have shown to be investing heavily in animation and trying to globalize productions and creative voices in the medium, with Spider-Verse being the most recent example. Even Japan has recently been recruiting more foreigner animators, and South Korea and China are starting to prop up their own animation industries.

On the other side, you have Disney live-action remakes/retellings which may be perpetuating the notion that animation is inferior to live action. General audiences, especially adults, can often be insecure about watching cartoons, and seeing them as live action seems to deliver the idea that realism makes these stories more mature.

How do you think animation will be perceived in the future in the U.S? Do you believe the perception will even change at all? If so or not, how?

  • It's an interesting topic, but I'm not sure I agree that cartoons aren't seen as legitimate forms of adult entertainment. For instance, it seems like many people nowadays recognize that anime can be for all ages, not just for children. And it seems like you also see more and more Western cartoons out there that contain jokes and plotlines intended as much for adults as for kids (Adventure Time and Regular Show come to mind here). Can you come up with specific examples of people looking down on cartoons because they think they're for kids, or is it just your conjecture that people do this? – Debs 1 year ago
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  • As stated by Debs ^, I would also argue that many American cartoons cater to (and are sometimes even written directly for) adult audiences. I would look specifically at cartoons such as Warner Bros Bugs Bunny cartoons, as well as modern shows like Spongebob Squarepants or The Simpsons. In some cases, these series' go beyond mere adult themes or jokes; they are written with direct adult messages. There is, I think, growing demand for animated entertainment among adult audiences. Perhaps the question to explore should be - what audiences or demographics tend to embrace animation the most in the United States? What can we point to as possible reasons for any discrepancies found? – jkillpack 1 year ago
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  • I suppose I should've been more specific and stated 2D animation instead. Animation as a whole has been embraced, but in the general zeitgeist, most of that admiration is directed at feature animation from Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, and Illumination. Animation done outside these studios doesn't receive as much attention and can be actively dismissed due to not being tied to the Big Four.For example, while Into the Spider Verse made its budget back, it didn't do as well as it could've. While a lot of this can be attributed to competition from Aquaman (2018), there are many anecdotes that have described general audiences being put off by Spider-Verse's animation, which doesn't adhere to the standard, smooth animation people are used to from Disney and Pixar. These also add that people dismissed Spider Verse because they didn't want to watch a cartoon.Many people lament the absence of 2D animation in cinema, but general audiences seem to believe it as being reserved only for TV/streaming. I completely agree that U/S animation has catered to other demographics, but many of these shows also seem to be overt in their adult targeting through vulgarity, nudity, violence, etc. just to prove it. I also believe you'll be hard-pressed to find the average adult on the street who would openly admit to enjoying animation, particularly if it's 2D and not from Disney or Pixar. – ImperatorSage 1 year ago
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Telling A Story Through Animation

Animation has always amazed me. Everything from the artist who created the objects to the story blows my mind. For this specific topic, I think it would be interesting to examine how the absence of human actors changes the way a story or theme is perceived. For example, Zootopia is told from the point of view of animated animals. Yet, the film discusses heavy themes of preconceived judgment against specific groups. Most animated films are geared towards children. Why is this? What about those that are meant for adults?
How does animation affect a film’s narrative?

  • I feel there has been more of a push to deliver important social messages to humans at younger, more vulnerable ages. We can, I think, see the effects of this on the generational political opinions, especially as younger voters start to stretch the elastic of the bipartisan system. Companies that embrace open-mindedness and project these ideas through their marketing are often praised for their messages. When Coca-Cola featured a gay couple in their Super Bowl ad, for example. As far as your point about animation goes, it seems like a vehicle for these same messages to more accessible. Not just for kids, but for everyone. Social change, equality, and similar ideas don't always have to be discussed in stuffy rooms by well-dressed politicians. They can be accessed and discussed by the common person, even if not everyone may agree on the particular topics. Brightly-colored, animated bunnies with cartoon eyes simply serve as a friendly, introductory face for these conversations. – Analot 3 years ago
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  • A really interesting topic, and I feel like it could get into some real nitty-gritty stuff regarding animation as a visual medium. While I'm not nearly as versed in Western animation, there are several studies on anime that can be very useful. First and foremost I recommend checking out Thomas LaMarre's book "The Anime Machine", which particularly discusses the cell animation stand as anime's equivalent to the film camera, and how its technical qualities has shaped the visual and perceptual language of the medium in a wide variety of aspects. I also know that Christopher Bolton has written about the split between signifying form and signified content in anime in his essay "From Wooden Cyborgs to Celluloid Souls" - although I'm only familiar with it second-hand through Carl Silvio's essay "Animated Bodies and Cybernetic Selves" which relates Bolton's ideas to theories of posthumanism (a read that I also highly recommend). – blautoothdmand 3 years ago
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  • This is a really interesting topic! And it is quite palpable how kid-oriented animation is, particularly when you come across animated films that are not geared toward children. There is a jarring, unsettling juxtaposition in animated films like Plague Dogs, Felidae, Watership Down and Animal Farm that deal with mature themes without the sugar coating we've been conditioned to expect with animation. Granted, these are older films so animation wasn't quite as established for children the way it is now in the west. I think taking a look at Animal Farm in particular might help with this topic, considering it follows similar concepts as Zootopia but with far more negativity on the matter (considering the environment Orwell was writing in). – caffeine 2 years ago
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Life Action Remakes of Animated Films

Specifically looking at Disney, it seems to be a fad of late that animated films from the past are being given a life-action face lift. Is there an actual reason behind re-creating the Disney classics other than doing so from a purely capitalistic standpoint? There is controversy that Disney films are quite dark and if they are appropriate for their target audience, that is children. So are these remakes being created to be targeted more towards the children and being used to censor their animated predecessors?
To they alter too much from the original and does it retain the same magic created by the hand painted animated stories that established the Disney brand?

  • When the film is reimagined (Think: Maleficent) the live-action remake can serve as a new medium for a new message. When it's the same story, the new medium feels almost like pandering. I'd rather have a remastered release than for someone to tell me the same script, same characters, same story is truly new just because it's been recast.Corinne Andersson just posted on the future of this topic, but her article didn't explore feelings about the process, in case whoever writes on this might find it useful: http://www.insidethemagic.net/2016/04/16-animation-to-live-action-movie-remakes-disney-has-in-the-works-right-now/ – Piper CJ 4 years ago
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  • I think the sense of "magic" that was present in early Disney films would be impossible to recreate nowadays. The new live-action movies, beyond existing purely as a gesture for capital gain, seem to pander to modern celebrity culture in which we desire to see our favourite actors playing iconic characters...this is happening in Beauty and the Beast for sure, which features a whole bunch of super famous actors. This is probably an unpopular opinion, but I think I like the Cinderella reboot better than the original. I think they filled in a lot of plot holes really well, kept enough of the original elements that it felt true to the story, but updated and changed the stuff they needed to. You can't really "replace" the old animated Disney magic with better effects/acting/writing/etc., but I do think these movies could potentially serve a cinematic purpose. I guess we'll see how the next five of them turn out. – darapoizner 4 years ago
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  • I don't mind live action remakes of movies, but I do wish they'd make more remakes of movies that didn't do well the first time around. I know they do what they know will work - Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid (upcoming) - but I'd like to see someone try to fix the issues with a less popular movie like Atlantis or Treasure Planet. – chrischan 4 years ago
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  • I love animated movies and am never quite sure how I feel about these remakes. Live action and animation are very different mediums, and I don't think that these live actions films can evoke the wonder that the hand painted works do. 'Maleficent' is an interesting film because it presents a really different version of the Sleeping Beauty story and gives the villain depth. However, I have a lack of interest in these other remakes because they seem to be just that, remakes for the sake of making money, taking advantage of the success of the originals, shows such as Once Upon a Time, and previous remakes like the aforementioned 'Maleficent'. – MelanieHurley 4 years ago
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  • I believe they do it to bring their old works to the modern age. For the most part, the perspectives in the live action films and being re-explored and the characters are much more independent and developed. – RadosianStar 4 years ago
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The Relationship Between Animation and its Audiences

Animated TV shows over the last decade or so have been following a certain trend. It would seem, that if an animated show is popular (let’s consider for example, Adventure Time–having spawned numerous types of merchandise, comics, and video games), despite having some sort of intended (I use the term loosely here) audience of younger viewers (exampled by what network may pick up a show, like Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network), it grows a larger audience in older viewers as well, the "unintended" audience. What could cause this? Is there a notable trend in TV shows this happens with, like Steven Universe, Star Butterfly vs. the Forces of Evil, and so on? (Important to note the differentiation between shows such as these and those that have an older audience in mind, like Futurama and Bojack Horseman).

  • I like this topic but you should also include reference to things like lore, backstory, depth, etc. Adventure Time and Steven Universe have had an impact on older audiences most likely due to a developed lore system along with darker subtext that older viewers can enjoy on a more intellectual level. It is just something important that differentiates these works from shows like, I don't know, SpongeBob SquarePants or Fairly Oddparents. – Connor 5 years ago
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Anime Production Companies and How They Differ from Western Studios

Compare the Japanese and Western animation industries. In particular, look at some of the major studios in Japan today and in the West, and compare how they function. How is the work load divided? Is the software used to animate the same? How many series will be created at once? Is the pre or post production sequences done differently? Interviews with anime staff on Anime News Network, Youtube documentaries on Animation production, or information from the Hey, Answerman column may be useful to refer to.

  • This would be fascinating to read about, looking at cultural differences in animation studios, are there any in particular you had in mind when considering this topic? – Camille Brouard 5 years ago
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  • Other than Studio Ghibli, there's very little information on how Japanese anime is produced that I've been able to track down in either video or written form. I've always wanted to understand the methodology behind how they draw each frame of movement, and how they choose when to draw that frame. Because while anime is often very limited in its animation, it is decidedly skillful in how it retains a strong sense of expressionistic and stylistic movement, that also incredibly fluid when it needs to be, and subtle and frugal the rest of the time. But no manual exists for this that I know of. There's also no explanation as to how, where, and for how long Japanese animators learn their craft for the stunning animation they produce in the amazingly short time spans that they do. Each studio is different, and has reproduced the art-styles of numerous directors, but in almost all cases, everyone is a brilliant talent, unlike a lot of animation produced in the West, where we're much more simplified in our art-styles, rather than semi-realistic with a unique shape to faces and eyes. The best documentary I've seen on the system is the 45 minute piece created for "Little Witch Academia." And Studio Trigger is definitely one of the strongest examples of Japanese animation today. – Jonathan Leiter 5 years ago
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  • I think how you search for the information (search terms) can make a big difference. I've seen a number of videos on it. There are also books. Some other studios which might have information are Sunrise, Toei, Gonzo, Gainax, Production Ig, Bee train, Bones, Kyoto animation, Madhouse.... – Jordan 5 years ago
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  • I believe I saw a video on an American produced Japanese culture Youtube series which toured Madhouse for a special episode. Ghibli just seems to be the main one that gets the most coverage in terms of televised documentaries and other special behind-the-scenes footage. – Jonathan Leiter 5 years ago
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  • The main avenue of investigation seems to be drawing style. Investigating this would likely yield much of what you seek. – JDJankowski 5 years ago
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