I know my soapbox has been rather dusty for a bit, but I think it’s time to dust it off for a little bit. The cartoon landscape has shifted pretty hard within the last 10 years or so. Where you used to see hand drawn movies all the time (especially from Disney), with a smattering of cg movies, now you get the exact opposite.
Back in the olden times, all you would see is hand drawn animation, literally. People would draw on cels, and animate them manually. However, as the times progress, many animation studios went to computers to draw and animate television shows and movies. By means of drawing tablets, most of the hand drawn stuff still had the look of hand drawn.
These stories were epic. We had Cinderella, Fantasia, almost every Pokemon movie (Japan really hasn’t moved on to CG movies), Atlantis, the Pooh movies, Osmosis Jones, Every Batman animated movie known to man, Titan A.E., Wakko’s Wish, Beavis and Butthead to America, just to name a very few. The problem is that these are all hallowed when it comes to most of our memories. With the exception of the movies coming from TV shows and the Disney direct to video movies,, we never really got to see these characters again.
But that all changed when Woody and crew attacked. Well, when they came to the movie screens, anyway. What started with Toy Story, bounced to everything, from Antz and A Bug’s Life, to two Toy Story sequels, a few Dr. Seuss adaptations, soon to be 3 Kung Fu Panda movies, a reimaging on Tin Tin, Shrek and its 4 sequels and spin offs. It started off as a novelty, getting one or two a year. Then, it just exploded in 2006, with Open Season, Happy Feet, Barnyard, Monster House, Cars, and Ice Age: The Meltdown.
There is a real problem when you notice an entire hand-drawn animation department gets the axe and switches to computer animation. What studio was this? Here’s a hint. It’s from the land of the mouse. That’s right, Disney will no longer have hand drawn animation anymore for their movies. I hope you people got your copies of Treasure Island, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and almost any other classic Disney animated movie before it went “back into the vaults.” We won’t be getting any new ones, probably ever.
Can you imagine seeing Maleficent in 3-D? It would look atrocious. How about the heffer known as Ursula? I just puked up in my mouth. My point is this, and I am making it rather early. Hand-drawn animation brought a certain feel and style. Every movie looked different. Even from Disney movie to Disney movie look different.
With computer animation, the characters and setting run completely homogenized. All are overly round and aesthetically the same. The plots seem very cookie-cutter. As a side note, if I have to see one more motherfucking Shrek movie coming out, I may flip a table, because it’s the same movie now for 4 movies, not counting Puss-N-Boots.
What can we really say is a movie of extreme adoration? The exception seems to be Toy Story, and not much else. Yeah, Ice Age and Shrek got an obnoxious amount of sequels and spinoffs. What is really going to be remembered? The problem is, and this gets laid mostly at the feet of Nickelodeon and Viacom, that they oversaturate their movies with terrible shows spun off from the movies. Have you seen the shit called Back to the Barnyard, or how about Penguins of Madagascar? They have a new one, based on Monsters vs. Aliens, and it’s all the same basic plot lines through all of the shows.
Trust me when I say this, television isn’t faring much better. Yes, there will always be a home for real animation on TV. Look at Venture Bros, Axe Cop, Metalocalypse, the Avengers, and The Simpsons, Archer, South Park, Family Guy, and Ultimate Spider-Man. However, we still have TMNT (which isn’t terrible. They had a good season one), Monsters vs. Aliens, Penguins of Madagascar, Back at the Barnyard, Green Lantern (which got cancelled after one season), Jimmy Neutron, and so many others.
And then I saw the trailer for the latest CG abomination. Beware the Batman is the latest in DC Nation’s animation block. In fact, it’s the same block that gave us the turd Teen Titans Go!, but also the masterpiece, Young Justice. This trailer is the worst looking animated (traditional or not) Batman I have seen yet. Batman himself looks terrible, like a walking stick with ears. There’s no style, or taste.
Remember when DC owned Saturday mornings? Shows like Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Superman, and later on, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited were the pinnacle of action, story, and style. Batman, in particular, had done something that was the exact opposite of what cartoons were doing. It took a turn to the dark, both in story, as well as in the setting. The dark, art deco style was something rarely done before. Yeah, through the series, it veered away from it, in terms of some lighter scenery.
Cartoon Network started airing new Batman series, but none of them captured the same lightning in a bottle. The Batman was short and nothing memorable. Batman: The Brave and the Bold was very lighthearted, just like the comic it came from. Most Batfans turned away from it, with the gleam of Batman of old in their eyes. Now we get CG Batstick. This should be a disgrace to every person who claims to be a Batman fan. It honestly looks like I could be watching a cutscene from the atrocity known as “Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu.” You people can keep this shit. I’ll be watching Batman: The Animated Series.
This is the future of animation. Everything you loved about cartoons runs the risk of homogenizing everything that made cartoons unique and fun to watch. Most of the time, I see a CG show or movie, and it’s more of a chore than anything, and it downright pisses me the fuck off. Cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean better, especially when it comes to entertainment.
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