Something I’ve been thinking about as I scrolled through the current anime thing thread: I’ve been a casual anime fan most of my life and, like a lot of people, my appreciation for the form has increased with the rise of Crunchyroll, Funimation (I prefer dubs. Sue me.) and now VRV. But it’s made me realize there is nothing even approaching it coming out of Western animation studios.
Now don’t get me wrong, I happen to think Western animation is as good now as it’s ever been. I can’t imagine how great it must be to be a kid today, with Cartoon Network, Disney XD and Nickelodeon all pumping out multiple, high quality shows. Similarly, adult-oriented (as in, the targeted demo, not porn) is excellent, led by shows like Bojack, Rick & Morty, and Bob’s Burgers.
So, Western animation falls into one of three categories (or often two or all three): children’s shows, superheroes, or comedy. There are basically no non-comedic, non-cape, non-kid’s shows. The only exceptions I can think of are Neo-Yokio and Castlevania, but they’re both cribbing anime style, not telling grown up stories in traditional Western animation. (I guess that means the thread’s title is misleading - I don’t want Western anime, I want American/European animators to make their own thing. It also occurs to me now that I’ve been using “Western” to mean “American,” but if my several trips to France are anything to go by, I doubt there’s a thriving scene there.)
Other than a hot second of Liquid Television, Tron: Legacy might be the closet thing I can think of, but I think that probably counts as a kid’s show, too, right?
The “animation is for kids” cliche has been gone ever since Homer Simpson drank it under the table. Yet in North America, it’s never moved beyond comedy into serious, serial storytelling. So my question is, why? Do people have any speculation, or know of any research? Do we think anime’s explosive popularity the last few years will lead to that changing? Or is it out there and I just don’t know about it? Do we even care?