Animation: A Defense of the Medium and Why We Need More!

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Animation: A Defense of the Medium and Why We Need More!

Animation is a medium of storytelling that is seen as lesser in the film industry. The art form is stereotyped as a medium for kids, not suitable for media curated to adults. Anyone who watches it is assumed to be a child or not know what a good story is. This is why most superhero films are live-action instead of animation.

However, with films such as Spiderman into the Multiverse making critical acclaim and Studio Ghibli films held in high regard, is it time to let the notion of Animation being just for children go? Today I’m presenting my argument for animated movies. And why the film industry needs more of them.

Animation can’t be serious.

People assume that animation can’t cover serious topics. They identify it more with Saturday morning cartoons that are typically silly, humorous and only give a base understanding of serious topics.

People assume you can’t make animation deep dive into weighty topics, the topics that adults would enjoy and would go to a cinema for.

Many of these people are wrong. Throughout the history of animation, there have been many films and cartoons that can deep dive into serious issues. (Many are made for children). Some point to the Iron Giant and how it presents the pressure of Cold War America on machinery and young children. As well as how it presents the military.

I point to the Grave of the Fireflies (2004). Grave of the Fireflies is a Studio Ghibli classic. Based on the short story by Akiyuki Nosaka. It tells the story of a brother and sister who starve to death during the Second World War. Because they become homeless and cannot get rations, it's a harrowing movie that will leave you crying for days. And shows a realistic and brutal reality of war when you don’t get on with the extended family.

The animation doesn’t shy away from anything, showing the corpse of the main character's little sister. In fact, I don’t think this adaptation would work well as a real-life adaptation at all. If you were to make it live-action, you wouldn’t be able to make the fireflies as bright and yellow as they do in the animation, which would lessen the impact of the firefly imagery throughout the film.

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Safer option

Plus, in the animation, they were able to show how dramatically the bodies of the children changed because of starvation. If this were live-action, you’d only achieve that by getting an actress or actor to go on an extreme diet that is unhealthy and probably illegal for child actors. With animation, you can do whatever you like to the cast as you don’t have to worry about how they look or their health because it's all drawn or done via a 3D model.

If you didn’t see the dramatic change in the body, you wouldn’t believe what was happening to the characters nor believe in the story. This shows that animation can talk about serious subjects for adults and be a safer option for certain ones.

Superhero movies

We’ve all watched a superhero movie. Whether it's something in the MCU or a recent DC movie, we all have a favorite superhero movie. With the success of Marvel’s Into the Spiderverse, audiences have seen the versatility of animation in the range of art styles. In this case, a comic book type of art style.

Portraying the superheroes in this way made the action way more fluid. The CGI was more believable. The amount of storytelling and movement you could pull off compared to a live-action film was incredible and more impactful. And you can tell just by watching it superhero movies fit the genre of animation much better.

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Bigger and better

For superhero movies, bigger is always better. The statement is always applied to their action and their inbuilt universes. Sometimes, these universes are either explored rather shoddily or not at all! Because of budget and scheduling conflicts. While the animation isn’t always cheap, using that medium for storytelling could allow for a fully visualised exploration of superhero stories that the genre demands.

We don’t get this because of how animation is viewed by the general public and Hollywood, which is unfair. When animation constantly pushes the boundaries and creates more nuanced stories on par with its live-action counterparts.

We need to start understanding animation is not just a stupid kids form. Animation is an art form that adults can enjoy. The quicker we do that, the more stories we’ll get matched to their proper storytelling art form. And if the industry starts seeing it as something serious like it should be. Then animators can get paid what they are rightfully entitled to. Animation is a genuinely underrated form of storytelling, and it's time that stopped.

Make more animated movies, especially superhero ones!

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