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Old 2007-12-31, 03:19   Link #1
solomon
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American TV Animation as of now: Opinon?

Hey there, its 3 am and I'm bored so NEW POST TIME!

Anyways I'm an anime fan but before that I was a harcore GENERAL animation fan, which equates to mainly non anime american stuff, spanning many decades. I'm only 19 but thanks to syndication and cable (namely OLDSCHOOL cartoon network) I saw A LOT of OLD cartoons along with the new ones.

To keep it simple, I guess i could ask, How good or bad do you think the crop of american tv toons are right now? Comparison to other eras is fine, if you have other (preferably NON JAPANESE) cartoons to rate ours against that be awesome.
Of course, "good" can mean many things. I consider myself a bit of a coinisueur and maybe a little snooty so I tend to use good as was it a "quality" work as well as "entertaining" (once again subjectivity, but I just wanted to make it clear)

Anyways to start the post off; I say 2007 isn't really that great. There has been no breakout production that seems to do anything interesting, either for kids or adults. Oh sure I like Spongebob, King of the Hill I think is great, and South Park does earn mention. But nothing seems to break the mold or even really stick out as a quality show.

Admittedly, I may be a tad biased cause my childhood was in the 90s, when TV cartoons got GOOD again. (im sorry but 70s and 80s cartoons suck generally except for a TINY few, namely certain TV specials and garfield). Im sure a lot of you guys hitting 20 or older will rave about the unique stuff airing on FOX Kids, Nickelodean, Cartoon Network and Kid's WB. Plus you had the opening of adult works again like the Simpsons, Beavis and Butthead, duckman, Aeon Flux, South Park, Spawn, etc.

Historically a lot of mold breakers were made then, and many of them (including kid oriented stuff) had college and even adult fans. That really shocked some people, HAHA! Only other time such interesting things were happening was with TV cartoons in the 60s, (namely comedies like Hanna Barbera shows and Rocky and Bullwinkle. Action shows, well some were cool and ambitious for their time, like Johnny Quest. It and The Lone Ranger had cool artwork, but naturally action toons of the 60s have it hard going compared to our modern edgy stuff)

There is little actual hard correlation, (and plus it's due to age, nostaliga and biases) but the fall of terrestrial networks showing cartoons and the "mainstreaming" of the main kids networks (ie Disney and CN trying to copy Nickelodiean) coinciding with a drop in interesting works, and I love cartoons just as much as I did as a 20 year old as a 10 year old (DONT STONE ME!!)

Ok, enough of my gabbing, GO CRAZY!!!
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Old 2007-12-31, 03:45   Link #2
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In my opinion American animation isn't bad, but the ones that are good are mostly not focused on animation but some other aspect that attracts viewers. Of course I am talking about sitcoms such as South Park, The Simpsons, and Family Guy. Those I have respect for and I regard it as very good animation.

About cartoons targeted for a younger audience, there's one big problem. First of all, let's leave animation aside. There isn't really a cartoon that is targeted for a teenage audience, so all cartoons already turn me off because they're simply too "childish" and don't interest me. Also, there's only two genres, and it is either action or ... well those anime for girls that features a girl's daily life and problems (I don't even know how to classify this). Again, animation aside, American cartoons are missing three very important aspects that anime has: comedy, romance, and drama. Watching random action over time will really, really make a series boring.

Of course there are exceptions to these but they are very few. Two obvious and famous example are shows such as Sponge Bob SquarePants and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Sponge Bob is what I would classify as non-sitcom animated comedy. This is one among the few TV-Y7 cartoons that doesn't have random fighting but is rather focus on humor, very much like sitcoms but for a younger audience. This never gets old, since you can create new jokes but random action will just be...random action. The other I mentioned is Avatar, which is also shown on Nickelodeon and it features action, romance, comedy, drama, and in short, its plot is similar to an anime's plot, creating a good mix of genres that keeps the viewer's attention. Until now I can find no show similar to Avatar.

Well I'm not going to pretend like I hated all cartoons. Let's go back in time to Superman, Spiderman, Batman, and all that fun stuff. Even though they're pretty much episodic, there is a central focus, there is a clear background to the stories, they feature consistency of themes, and they have captivating adventures every episode. Right now it's really hard to find anything like this, and trust me, I've tried. One good semi-recent cartoon is Xiaolin Showdown, which had an interesting hook, episodes revolving around a central plot, and well, it was just enjoyable.

So now, let's talk about animation. However, let's not. Another thing that turns me off is the appearance of these non-human characters. Superman/batman/spiderman actually had...superheroes and villains resembling humans. Sure once in a while there's a creative villain, but most of the time semi-realism is kept. Right now I turn on the TV half of the time I will see some deformed robot or a half-crab Martian as the star of the show. About the animation, well they're not horrid (except when they're trying to animate a talking machine gopher), but they leave more to be wanted. As much as I hate Yu-Gi-Oh, I would rather watch that then some of the ones currently airing on Fox Kids and Kids' WB.

In summary, American cartoons are targeted to two audiences: adult and children. Younger children might like saturday/sunday cartoons, but I basically find very few cartoons that interests me. However, I'm not putting down current American animation. I'm pointing out its target audience, and since I'm not one of them, I stick with anime. It's that simple. I still enjoy South Park and Family Guy very much. I hope that animated sitcoms will never fall out of interest in society.
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Old 2007-12-31, 04:37   Link #3
solomon
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Interesting opinion. As for categories, I say it's mainly action and Non-action. I think action is dwarfed by non-action 2 to one. As for animation, Ed Edd and Eddy is the only show that has vibrant, interesting animation on American Tv now. After Disney closed down theyre overseas studios, the quality of disney tv toons went way down. And with few (VERY VERY few) exceptions, most cartoons arent interesting in terms of animation cause lets face it Korean sub contracting is just crap generally. It was an it probably always will be given the system.

As for "random action" I can kinda understand the argument about US stuff not being as interesting due to it being episodic. But if prime time tv (CSI?) can do it, so can animation but no one is doing it.
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Old 2007-12-31, 09:49   Link #4
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I don't love the overall quality of Western cartoons, but in terms of actual animation? I would take Western work over Japanese any day.
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Old 2007-12-31, 13:27   Link #5
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For western animation right now, it sucks. I hate to say it since I'm more of a W than E anime person. But seriously, the 90s were the golden age. Maybe the caliber of art wasn't as great, but what really mattered, the storyline and character development (stunted as they for "cartoons") was so much better than it is now.
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Old 2007-12-31, 13:30   Link #6
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thundercats and galactic hawks hahaha, simpsons
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Old 2007-12-31, 13:42   Link #7
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Kids Next Door? Gawd, this is one amongst the slew of cartoons my brother watches. I hate 'em. There is simply no plot in most of the cartoons airing on Cartoon Network.
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Old 2007-12-31, 13:58   Link #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EXEs;
Kids Next Door? Gawd, this is one amongst the slew of cartoons my brother watches. I hate 'em. There is simply no plot in most of the cartoons airing on Cartoon Network.
I know they don't have a set stroyline.. just random episodes

Western Cartoons are rubbish if you ask me.
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Old 2007-12-31, 14:41   Link #9
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"Western" (or American) cartoons go through cycles.... shit-gold-shit-gold.

Mostly we're in a "shit" cycle this latter part of the decade. Its easier to tell after you've been around a few decades and finally are able to drop the "rainbow" you have around the cartoons you experienced first.

As over-hyped as Sponge Bob is (a massively cleaned up redux of Ren&Stimpy), I'd consider at least the first season or two of it to be somewhat golden.

As far as "adult" cartoons go (Futurama, Simpsons, South Park, etc) - they're pretty much based on the appearance of the creator rather than any time cycle. You have to get some consensus because for example, while I like the Groening products and South Park ... I find Family Guy and King of the Hill to be both lame and unfunny. Sometimes they are able to score some moral point though. Tastes differ, as they say
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Old 2007-12-31, 14:50   Link #10
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I find that what usually starts off as gold in american animations turn into flops as jokes are constantly being reused or painted over with a layer of paint to make it seem different. For me it is a case of "yea, it was funny for the first 100th times but you really need to try something different". Sadly one of my childhood enjoyments "The Simpsons" have gone down that route. Family guy is funny at times but it proves to be hit and miss with a dash of randomness...a lot of the comedy it uses is rather forced in that the audience laugh at the "WTF" and confusing. Examples include peter making a statement that starts of with "remember the time when..."
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Old 2007-12-31, 14:52   Link #11
ZeusIrae
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What about Avatar?I have never seen a single ep but some say it's good., then again it might be considered to too anime-ish to be american animation.

Anyway, I am curious about this show.
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Old 2007-12-31, 15:48   Link #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeusIrae View Post
What about Avatar?I have never seen a single ep but some say it's good., then again it might be considered to too anime-ish to be american animation.

Anyway, I am curious about this show.
Avatar: The Last Airbender is my favorite fantasy/adventure cartoon after Seirei no Moribito.
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Old 2007-12-31, 15:59   Link #13
solomon
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Good point Vexx, about the whole shit, gold cycle. Some say the anime is in a bit of a shit cycle now, but from the 70s on I think you had a fairly consistent level of either mold breaking or just quality shows come out (not a huge amount) and this carries on into today, it's just a real select few.

Plus, while TV animation turned to shit during the 70s in america, it was really starting to get cool in 70s and 80s in japan what with Gundam, Lupin, Yamato and Macross and such.

It was moderately cool when Disney started to make tv cartoons (some of the animation on stuff like Darkwing Duck and Goof Troop could be DAMN good sometimes) and really cool WB got back in the game. But neither have made anything interesting to me in the last 3-7 years. (Disney had Mickey Mouse Works, and WB had Justice League)

One other random probably meaningless correlation.

I noticed a drop off in interesting shows after the looney tunes* were banished to premium cable. I mainly saw them on Nickelodean and Kids WB, thank god they had them cause I was ignorant of the Bugs Bunny and Tweety show on ABC until about 95 (pointless I know, but still)

(*Ok it's not actual TV animation, but being top of saturday morning for 40 years deserves some mention)
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Old 2007-12-31, 17:07   Link #14
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I think one of the biggest differences between American and Japanese animation are the plotlines. Most American animations seem to be self contained episodes, as in one could be watched without seeing the episodes before without a problem. As such, they continue until every joke/storyline they have is overused and overdone. They also are toned down for the younger audiences, and even the serious ones have terrible comic relief.
Japanese animation tends to be more streamlined with more complex story. As such, the shows in Japan tend to have less episodes in a series, usually 13-24.

American animation usually seems to me to have more motion and more fluidity. However, I still prefer the Japanese motion. It's much simpler and easy to watch.

Of course, there are exceptions. Lucky Star in Japan had no plot whatsoever. One of my favorite American shows, a show called "Invasion America" had tons of plot. Apparantly Avatar has a lot of plot, but I'm not seeing it...

I just hate the American voices. They tend to be overdone and too slow to me, and some just sound too much the same. Then there are also the cliches that they always employ...
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Old 2007-12-31, 17:34   Link #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deathkillz View Post
I find that what usually starts off as gold in american animations turn into flops as jokes are constantly being reused or painted over with a layer of paint to make it seem different. For me it is a case of "yea, it was funny for the first 100th times but you really need to try something different". Sadly one of my childhood enjoyments "The Simpsons" have gone down that route. Family guy is funny at times but it proves to be hit and miss with a dash of randomness...a lot of the comedy it uses is rather forced in that the audience laugh at the "WTF" and confusing. Examples include peter making a statement that starts of with "remember the time when..."
You know, 99% of anime themes are just rehashes, or celebrations of rehashes (see Gundam).
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Old 2007-12-31, 17:54   Link #16
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I don't think anime can ever be in a shit cycle, because there's always at least one good show per season for me, even though lately at least one tends to stay at one.
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Old 2007-12-31, 18:48   Link #17
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Originally Posted by ChrissieXD View Post
I think one of the biggest differences between American and Japanese animation are the plotlines. Most American animations seem to be self contained episodes, as in one could be watched without seeing the episodes before without a problem. As such, they continue until every joke/storyline they have is overused and overdone. They also are toned down for the younger audiences, and even the serious ones have terrible comic relief.
Japanese animation tends to be more streamlined with more complex story. As such, the shows in Japan tend to have less episodes in a series, usually 13-24.
I agree with this, and I'd add that another significant difference is that most American shows seem designed to go on indefinitely. There is no start and end to them - they're just there, and the only time they disappear is when the ratings go bad. This isn't true for all shows - Drawn to Life (I believe it was called) had a season, and then never showed again. However, the reason was apparently because it didn't do as well as had been hoped for - it was quite possible for a second season to occur.

With most anime that we see, you know that it's going to be 10-13, 24/26 or (rarely) 52/54 episode series, and that's going to be it. If it's really popular, you might see a continuation of the story in a few years, but otherwise the story is relatively set. Part of this may have to do with the fact that many series are based off of manga, although plenty of seres have diverged from their manga roots. In my opinion, knowing that the series will definitely have an end makes it seem more serious, even if it's a comedy series. You get attached, and it ends - you have fond memories of it, you have that emotion of having finished something wonderful, and then you move on. With many of these American shows, they're just always there. It's not so special, they don't build on each other, and they get tired.

Series length is really personal preference, though. I always enjoy it when a series I really like goes over the 26-episode mark, because you know you're in for a long treat. On the other hand, around episode 150 or so of Naruto I started getting bored and stopped watching. I may pick up Bleach again, but around episode 70-something I became bored with it as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vexx
As over-hyped as Sponge Bob is (a massively cleaned up redux of Ren&Stimpy), I'd consider at least the first season or two of it to be somewhat golden.

As far as "adult" cartoons go (Futurama, Simpsons, South Park, etc) - they're pretty much based on the appearance of the creator rather than any time cycle. You have to get some consensus because for example, while I like the Groening products and South Park ... I find Family Guy and King of the Hill to be both lame and unfunny. Sometimes they are able to score some moral point though. Tastes differ, as they say
I'm not a fan of Sponge Bob. As a younger child, I found Ren and Stimpy (as well as similar shows, such as Rocko's Modern Life) to be stupid, crass (sometimes to the point of being gross), boring, and definitely not funny. You knew that they were trying to be funny, which only made it worse.

I think Family Guy has its moments, but overall I feel that watching those shows is pretty much a waste of time, to me. The humor style doesn't connect well with me that often, and so I feel that I'd rather be watching something else. Not all anime comedies connect well with me either, of course, but those that do (such as School Rumble) are quite entertaining.

I guess this post makes me sound like a humorless critic. We all have different tastes, as Vexx pointed out...
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Old 2007-12-31, 19:23   Link #18
Vexx
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Ren & Stimpy (the grandfather of most of that stuff) was only really funny for about one season and then fell into the recycle pit.

But what Ledgem points out in the main portion of his post is what initially drew me into my love of anime in the first place.

The freaking stories/series START and then END. Almost no American television has this sort of thing outside of PBS and the long dead concept of the mini-series. Heroes came pretty close but as we're seeing it just won't go away either.

One of my favorite things about anime is that many of them (not the mainstream never-ending tripe) tell a story and then close the damn book and its done.
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Old 2007-12-31, 19:38   Link #19
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There has been no breakout production that seems to do anything interesting, either for kids or adults. Oh sure I like Spongebob, King of the Hill I think is great, and South Park does earn mention. But nothing seems to break the mold or even really stick out as a quality show.
Quote:
I know they don't have a set stroyline.. just random episodes.

Western Cartoons are rubbish if you ask me.
My thoughts. Above all else I appreciate a coherent storyline that advances in every episode. This is seconded by a mature and creative story, but without both I don't see any reason to watch the show.

Yes, japanese animations are riddled with random throws, unfinished endings, and fillers, but at least I can trust to find a good show every once in a while. All that is coming from the rest of the world just seems to... dull and down-to-earth that it's boring.
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Old 2007-12-31, 19:46   Link #20
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Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
Ren & Stimpy (the grandfather of most of that stuff) was only really funny for about one season and then fell into the recycle pit.

But what Ledgem points out in the main portion of his post is what initially drew me into my love of anime in the first place.

The freaking stories/series START and then END. Almost no American television has this sort of thing outside of PBS and the long dead concept of the mini-series. Heroes came pretty close but as we're seeing it just won't go away either.

One of my favorite things about anime is that many of them (not the mainstream never-ending tripe) tell a story and then close the damn book and its done.
I think it's more accurate to say done "enough". Honestly there are some pretty open endings to a lot of anime, although not for the typical american reasons (to make more money with a second season). But I do agree with you.

I think it's better to say most anime stories have a *point*. They don't go on and on and on with each episode having no real connection to the previous. Each episode builds upon the previous and reaches some kind of conclusion, even long running shows like Bleach, Naruto, and Dragonball Z, which do their stories in arcs.

The reason people rave about Avatar so much is that it breaks all the conventions of your average American show. It's building characters, filling in backstory, explaining the world, and driving to an end. It does all of this with good animation, voice acting, and music. That's.....unheard of for American animation, and even puts a lot of live action shows to shame.

Most American shows end because interest wanes, not because the story reached a conclusion. But that's the nature of how television in America has evolved.
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