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animation
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Sam



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 9795

PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 7:41 am    Post subject: animation Reply with quote

For asinine reasons not worth expanding upon, I have had plenty of pseudospare time to do nothing but sit on an ipad and watch any horrible bullshit i can find on the internet through whatever sites magically bypass a horrible firewall i am too cretinously dull to overcome. one of those sites, by some bizarre providence of God himself, is a ridiculously comprehensive piracy and streaming site purely for animated works (No Not That One But That One's Good Too). and it's pretty much all the animated works it can find. and it has a constantly updated list of all currently running animated works i think i could ever think of, as they release.

so i spent a week watching literally every currently running animated property, as they were released, until I had essentially experienced the entirety of one month of animated releases of this entire streaming library, albeit heavily biased towards american and japanese properties (but possessed of a litany of other things from other countries like the UK or korea)

a big thing struck me in particular:

1. western animation is becoming delightfully expansive, phenomenally witty, sometimes admirably creative, and sometimes brutally subversive.

this in a way I would not have readily anticipated, especially having grown up constantly watching cartoons in the 90's (which are practically universally just braindead mulch in comparison. no amount of rose color on anyone's glasses will survive actually being forced to watch a single episode of, say, Inspector Gadget). It is surreal in comparison to have an age in which a cartoon like Adventure Time is hailed by some as a transcendent work of wide appeal, or discussed with glowing familiarity in high society review. And this is what kids are watching and seeding future nostalgia for. comparing the enrichment factor between what they have and what we had? this is going to be a fucking furnace of cleverness that will cause us to be brutally surpassed. i'm sad. but ok.

even when it comes to the kid stuff, it's actually really "kid" stuff, like how a pixar movie is only superficially a "kid" movie but makes sure to retain a necessary degree of universal appeal (and is rewarded usually with a cadre of adult enthusiasts) animation in general seems to be experiencing a transformative renaissance from the expanding effects of Pendleton Ward's success with Adventure Time. he has utilized it to equip a whole new growing run of Pendletonian aftershock properties by equipping and empowering writers and artists on his show to go out and put their own creative energy into new worlds. some of these things are great stuff. many of these creative works like steven universe and and bravest warriors and bee and puppycat and all sorts of other stuff (even gumball is touched by it) is really all honestly entertaining and some of it is fairly well thought provoking and sort of fits in that entertainment niche of "i need to watch something that ain't too heavy and i can just sit back and enjoy it" without being gruelingly formulaic. was i expecting this? again not really.

And the adult properties are, well, still equally mystifyingly high quality, possibly due to some unique element wherein the utilization of animation allows for extraordinary plot and setting expansivity without limitations in the feasibility of how it would be portrayed in live action. Something about Bojack Horseman's unflinchingly cynical and touching portrayal of beautifully flawed people doesn't seem to work without a disarmingly otherworld pastiche of people mingling with people who are, for some inexplicable reason, animals. Rick & Morty is a more principal example of a show which is utterly fucking brilliant but absolutely impossible to equip its plot concerns as a live action show it would not be possible. It has to be animated. And it is arguably one of the best shows made in the last few years. Rarely does a show come around that hits the ground running and doesn't significantly falter through a whole season.

2. In Contrast To This Contemporary Progress, eastern animation seems struck with a comparatively remarkable failure to evolve or grow up. no, this is beyond my admitted and recognized prebias (that i can talk about later) it is increasingly stultifying, receding into an ever narrowing stylistic and tropish implosion, and their general system of portraying characters, character growth, conflict, exposition, and agency has become ruled by some bizarre sort of increasingly super-formulaic pandering that is rendering most of this stuff nigh unwatchable to me. the common output I have put myself through recently has caused me to direly understand Miazaki's general disdain for most anime.

multiple shows came and went where eventually I started realizing that the character archetypes had become flat beyond the point of parody, much to my dismay the characters were essentially interchangeable between completely unrelated properties. Most of this stuff is a garishly simplistic display of efficiency animation, filler episodes, more filler episodes, but it's really the character portrayal which has gotten the absolute worst end of the 'failure to evolve' point character attitudes aren't just pipelaid, they're hammered into your skull with absolute character pandering. it's like the people making these shows either don't trust or not allowed to trust the audience's capacity to understand and accept any demonstration of character, motivation, or revelation that is not overtly broadcast like you would to six year olds. I have been told that some of these issues are enforced simply by virtue of the industry's requirements on animators, which requires that shows be padded out and produced largely by the demands of efficiency, so that they can fit a mandatory (and grueling) schedule of something like 26 episodes per season, or something. even the most creative minds aren't going to do well with that and a lot of shows are peeled out to a thin paste of character pastiches and brutally asinine filler, just to fill the screentime.

it shows.

but other elements cannot be as easily accounted for, like the cookie-cutter archetypes that i see endlessly repeating, the brutal narrative laziness, and the increasingly (ideally) obsolete way that, say, women are cloyingly and objectifyingly represented in far too much eastern animation, which as time goes on i find i have less patience and more distaste for.

also 3. I generally think animation is becoming more important and central to our creative output as time goes on so we will be seeing some really rad shows soon

I ask your opinions of all this as probably other consumers of various animated works!

thoughts/questions/pithy throw ins showing how droll you find us beneathlings of thought
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ShadowCell



Joined: 03 Aug 2008
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Location: California

PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the stagnant nature of japanese anime these days is why i stopped watching it altogether

most of my interest in anime was through the Gundam franchise, which similarly started baking in all those standard anime tropes and fads. i haven't even bothered to watch the current ongoing show.

i tried to watch that one about microbes or whatever but even with a weird premise like that it just felt too much like Standard Issue Anime - The Series that i couldn't drag myself over to episode two.

there's probably great shows that i'm missing out on as a result but i sorta don't really care
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WheelsOfConfusion



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ShadowCell wrote:
the stagnant nature of japanese anime these days is why i stopped watching it altogether

Same.
It's kind of a shame because for decades they really were pioneering and branching out, so they've already established a strong basis in a lot of genres that Western animation (whether for TV or theaters) still largely doesn't touch, and they can still bring a kind of maturity to the subject matter that is also mostly absent in Western fare.
All that's counterbalanced by the pervasive sameness that's taken such a firm hold over the last 10 years or so (read: "whenever I stopped watching Anime because that's objectively when it went bad!"), especially regarding character archetypes.

I do have to wonder if much of this is because I've been getting my anime through a filter of localization and all the risk-averse tendencies that have cropped up since importing it became Big Business. We're only getting the most formulaic stuff brought over because the successful formulas were established early on as big sellers here, and things are way different overseas.
Or maybe, if that's not wholly the case, it could be that the use of standardized interchangeable character types is one of the things that enables anime to go off in all these myriad conceptual directions at once without getting bogged down by trivial things like "characterization." It's one thing to be a novelist who 'only' has to put words on a page, but if you're running an animation studio there are certain time and money constraints and an enormous amount of commitment to each project in terms of manpower, resources, and business cachet. A typical 22-minute episode of a series takes a full year to produce and is far more labor-intensive than using live actors and sets. Animation is still a form of mass entertainment and perhaps the sheer amount of stuff that goes into it before it can see the light of day makes it much more difficult to be experimental anymore, especially when so many wells have already been tapped by the (almost ridiculous) amount of predecessors and competitors you face at this point. I think we can agree(?) that the Japanese market is fairly animation-saturated compared to the Western one. Maybe there's just been so much anime that it's difficult to generate truly new characters at this point.
On the other hand, assuming the saturation idea holds up, you'd think that would spawn more and more experimentation as audiences got tired of samey-samey stuff all the time. Maybe there are cultural differences that make the individual characters themselves less of a focus than the overarching concept of a series, generally speaking. The audience might focus more on the ideas than the dramatis personae, and their expectations are weighted more towards the themes and messages than the personal nuances of the characters. I'm not sure that fully jibes with what I've seen of anime fans, though.

Maybe I'm overthinking things and it really is just a stagnant mire of grinding efficiency over innovation at this point. Conversely, maybe that only applies to the import market and we're just not getting a representative sample of the diversity in the native market.
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Darqcyde



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
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Location: A false vacuum abiding in ignorance.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I posit that Bob and Linda Belcher are one of the most typical, "normal" American parents in all of broadcast, including live action.

Also, the above speaks VOLUMES about the american people.

As for the success if Adventure Time, I think you're forgetting a couple of generations of someone's who laid some crucial groundwork, namely Genndy Tartakovsky and Butch Hartman and the rest of the California Institute of Arts who won Emmy's in animation (like McCraken and Faust just to name a couple), who in part probably could not have done what they did if it hadn't been for Klasky Csupo's series Rugrats and Ahh! Real Monsters, as well as Joe Murray's Rocko's Modern Life and Camp Lazlo. Of course, The notoriety of Ren & Stimpy and the general success of Batman the Animated series also paved the way for cartoons that were deviant from the norm yet successful in someway.

Adult Swim probably did a lot to show that "Yes, adults will watch the animations!" and OMG Aqua Teen Hunger Force has been a thing since 2001 . . .
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Darqcyde



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
ShadowCell wrote:
the stagnant nature of japanese anime these days is why i stopped watching it altogether

Same.
. . .

Maybe I'm overthinking things and it really is just a stagnant mire of grinding efficiency over innovation at this point. Conversely, maybe that only applies to the import market and we're just not getting a representative sample of the diversity in the native market.


This is definitely a thing, especially when it comes to dubs. As someone who's a fanboy, I tend to forget how many people are still sub adverse, and how much this impacts the American market.

Also, there have DEFINITELY been some disturbing trends in Japanese animation in the last decade or so. I feel that there's some middle managers from the distributor and publishing companies that run around the production studios basically telling them "You are producing a "X does Y with Z" product and have only met 37% of the minimum required elements. There needs to be 1:34 more of A, 5 more shots of B , and at least ___ much more of C".

My wife and I have started a few series over the years where we liked them initially, only to reach a point in the first episode where suddenly the ecchi kicks in and we let out audible whines of disappointment "Aww, it was one of those? Really?" I've come to think that there's some talented animators out there who can only get their stories told if the take the "low road", which is sad for many, many reasons.
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Mr Gary



Joined: 30 Apr 2009
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Location: Some pub in England

PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Side note, the greatest television show in history is an animated comedy programme which began in the early '90s, and still continues to maintain huge viewing figures in a prime time weekend slot despite a universally acknowledged drop off in quality that has now run (at least) a decade long, and yet which still, on it's day, is as funny as anything currently being broadcast. But that's a whole different bag of worms.
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Michael



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also,bob's burgers
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Arc Tempest



Joined: 28 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 1:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that the quality of western animation has gone up in recent years (because holy shit Adventure Time, Bob's Burgers, Archer, and Avatar), but I think you're doing a disservice to animation in the 90s. Sure a ton of it was absolute shit, but there was also the Animaniacs, Freakazoid, Rocko's Modern Life, Ren & Stimpy, Duckman...

Many of them had short runs, but the first three in particular were pioneers in the idea of winking and nudging the adult audience while (ostensibly) pandering to kids. In my mind they were the forerunners to the rise and fall Adult Swim (Birdman, Venture Brothers, and Frisky Dingo will always have a place in my heart), and the current group of exceptional shows.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 2:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

90s animation? Dexter's Laboratory.
NOT JUST BECAUSE IT'S MY FAVORITE
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Arc Tempest



Joined: 28 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

FREAKAZOID IS BETTER YOU STUPID HEAD.
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Samsally



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sorry nobody will ever convince me that the idea of winking and nudging the parents didn't start with or before the original Ninja Turtles cartoon.

At least one of the episodes has a 'spank the monkey' joke in it.
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mouse



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i have to tell you - winking and nudging at the adults goes back to the rocky and bullwinkle show (the tv show, not the movie) - for that matter, walt kelly was pretty good at it too (although of course that wasn't animation)
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Arc Tempest wrote:
FREAKAZOID IS BETTER YOU STUPID HEAD.


OH IT'S ON NOW!
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Arc Tempest



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NONE OF THAT. THIS IS A HAPPY PLACE.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Arc Tempest wrote:
NONE OF THAT. THIS IS A HAPPY PLACE.

Do you want to see something strange and mystical?
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