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The New Age of Modern Animation and Its Downfall

Armando Gimenez ’22

In this new and fantastic age of technology and modernization, the world of entertainment has grown exponentially to what it was in the past. With each new year, the animation industry grows more and more. Although the ability to make better work increases each year, large corporations and companies have started to take the heart and soul out of the works from the past. Even though large companies are taking over the market, hope lies within the past and independent studios. 

Nickelodeon’s Domination

A large part of today’s large interest in animation is due to the cartoons and films of people’s childhoods. This new age of animation would start and gain popularity during the mid 1990’s to early 2000’s. During this time, Nickelodeon was the king of the market. Nickelodeon would captivate kids with iconic shows such as, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rocko’s Modern Life, Hey Arnold!, and Rugrats. These shows would form the foundation for most of America’s youth and young adults. Nickelodeon’s cartoons will forever be ingrained into the memories of their viewers as the best forms of entertainment. Although Nickelodeon ruled the market during the 90’s, two new studios would gain astonishing popularity and appreciation during the early 2000’s. 

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In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, these two studios would become sensational hits and memorable places for most of the modern day youth. In the transition to the 21st century, Cartoon Network would air Dexter’s Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, Codename: KND, Samurai Jack, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, and last but not least Courage the Cowardly Dog. These shows would create a new age of entertainment and morphed the psyches of children throughout America. These shows brought out their fears and hopes, while keeping them entertained for decades. During the late 2000’s, Cartoon Network would bring new life to its shows, after the cancellation of so many greats in 2005.

This new life would spawn the fan favorite shows of Johnny Test, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, Ben 10, and Chowder. Numerous shows, such as Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and Ed, Edd N Eddy, would meet their dramatic and sad ending in 2009, but with every fall has its rise. This rise would be the formulation of its star shows, Regular Show and Adventure Time, in the 2010’s. These two shows would become timeless classics that grew better as its audience continued to grow.

Ben 10 (TV Series 2005–2008) - IMDb

Adventure Time and Regular Show were so revolutionary that they deserve their own paragraph, and don’t even get me started on the television masterpieces that were Teen Titans and Avatar the Last Airbender. These two shows would generate enjoyable content, while challenging the boundaries for what children shows were at the time. The two great shows age through time and become more memorable with each rewatch. These shows put complex and deep characters at its foreground, while keeping the humor the same.  These characters would act as guides for interacting with complex and confusing circumstances. The viewer got to learn and make mistakes, while being entertaining throughout. Nonetheless, these shows remain a large part of Cartoon Network’s best and most iconic shows. Although American animation has played a big role in the growth of it, it is simply impossible to ignore the role that Japanese anime has played in today’s world.

Although Studio Ghibli has been making fantastic films since the late 1980’s, their films were beginning to be recognized for their beautiful artwork and incredible storytelling in the 2000’s. Their most iconic film, regarded by most as the best animated movie of all time, is Spirited Away. This film brought their popularity in America and opened the path for their past and future films to flourish and be appreciated by an American audience. These films would create opportunities for other Japanese films and directors, such as the brilliant Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue, Paprika, and Millennium Actress), to be recognized and acknowledged by the American public. The works of Studio Ghibli created the anime community, one of the largest communities throughout America. 

2010’s: The Climax of Animation

In the 2010’s, animation would reach its peak and downfall in most forms of entertainment, especially television and films. Although anime has been thriving and bustling in a small community in the Americas, the anime community would grow and become more mainstream in society in the 2010’s. This community would grow stronger and become a staple in the culture of the youth. To this day the community and culture would continue to grow more and more everyday. This growth in the anime community is contrary to the oversaturation of films in this decade.   

Although Japanese films would continue to grow better and better each year with beautiful releases, such as A Silent Voice and Mary and The Witch’s Flower, award ceremonies, such as the Oscars, would continuously ignore the fantastic works of foriegn artist and directors over the mediocre work of mainstream million-dollar companies. Many American companies, such as Dreamworks and Pixar, would continue to create good work, but there would be a large change with the introduction of Illumination.

Illumination would bring destruction for animated films, due to their large popularity and lack of any meaningful substance. Illumination has created a cultural phenomenon that would suck the soul and meaning of animation with their films and excessive marketing. The Illumination studio has single-handedly shaped a new generation of youth’s thinking about what is good and bad entertainment. A new mindset would be spawned, one where fart-jokes and lack of emotional depth would be the optimal form for entertaining the young. This new mindset would also allow television studios to create lackluster content that would destroy the creativity of many. 

Even though Nickelodeon would take a back seat with animation by focusing on its main stars, SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly OddParents, Cartoon Network would continue to spawn “new creations” that copied and mocked the gold of their past. The first of these would be Teen Titans Go, which would remain a monstrosity to those who witnessed the greatness that was Teen Titans. Cartoon Network would continue to create these remakes and destroy the reputation of the old greats. It has truly become a shame and disgrace to the icon it once was, but the only sense of hope lies within the creation and individuality of new creators that would continue to express their art. 

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DisneyXD would be the light for many who foresaw the decline of Cartoon Network. DisneyXD, although it is not cartoon focused, would produce and air unique and interesting shows that would captivate a large audience. The biggest example of a fantastic DisneyXD show would be Gravity Falls. Gravity Falls would interest audiences for years with its incredible world building and loveable characters. DisneyXD would continuously create unique shows that varied in quality but would still entertain the masses and create strong fan bases that would last a long time after their end. Although DisneyXD would not always create the best animation, they still played a part in the public popularity of animation in America. 

A Grim Disney

In 2017, Disney would create a trend by releasing the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast. This movie would gain financial and critical success for its beautiful CGI and incredible retelling of its story. Although there were previous remakes, such as Cinderella and The Jungle Book, it seems that the 2017 movie would be the one to gain traction and the most popularity. This success popped an idea into the heads of Disney’s corporate geniuses.

Disney would begin its crusade to remake each old Disney classic by using modern day technology or real life actors. This is the worst thing that Disney could ever do for animation as a whole and the people who put their hearts into the creations of the past. By remaking the same movie without altering the core of it, Disney is sending a corrupt message to today’s children, one where the classics aren’t good enough to continue on in the art form in which they were first portrayed. The remakes show how Disney lacks any appreciation for their golden past and, instead, focus on the wealth and money they receive from their new releases. 

The greatest examples of a bad Disney remake and a blatant insult to the original creators would be Alladin and The Lion King, both in the year 2019. These two movies spawned two horrible renditions of Disney classics that did not need to be recreated. The original two movies are considered classics, meaning that, no matter the generation, they can be appreciated for their greatness. Essentially, the existence of the remakes are pointless and lack any sort of meaning. Not only were these renditions poor, but they were monstrosities compared to the originals.

The number one reason that these remakes failed was the fact that the creators did not recognize the role animation plays in a film. Animation is special since it always gives things that do not have any sort of visual expression, life, and emotion. The Lion King was brilliant when it first released because the characters were so expressive and emotional that without any noise or dialogue an individual can understand and see the emotion and depth of each character.

The perfect example of a visual masterpiece is Aladdin. Aladdin was unique since it recorded the script and dialogue before the movie was animated. This allowed the artists to express the emotion and heart that Robin Williams put into the Genie. Animation is a unique art form since it can express the complete complexity and beauty of the human soul, when done correctly. Animation is truly one of humanity’s most important visual art forms and needs to be appreciated for the role it has played on our culture and each individual.

Aladdin (2019) - IMDb
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