2D Animation. A fine craft from artisans who create individual cells without the aid of any technology. Over time, many a new software have come and gone. Many changes have taken place in the craft involved. But, there is no denying the novelty that is created by Classical Animators.
Cartoon or Anime: We have grown up with sunday cartoons. With the increase in demand, Cartoon channels were launched which catered to nothing but mass production of shows in all styles of animation. Animated movies took forefront for production houses. They turned it into an industry while compromising on the quality content. Merchandises mattered. Sales mattered even more.
Characters were created catering to the market demand they can generate. One of the biggest example was the utter disregard to the character of Merida from the Disney movie ‘Brave’. Merida was a warrior who never cared for her hair or how to be a proper princess. Her knowledge of archery bypassed her suitors. When Disney launched Merida dolls in the market, the doll was confirming to traditional society rules with her combable hair and ample backside. Such a shame!
While the above mentioned holds true, there is another, rather disputed aspect of Classical Cell Animation. Its genre. Disney, Pixar, Nickelodeon are considered as the American style of animation. Anime ( short for animation) is a Japanese style of Animation. The two have similar formation procedures, but vary like chalk and cheese. Their sects of fans are rivals of each other. Anime Fans consider American animation amateurish. They claim Anime has better story lines, more character depth and cater to all age of viewers. The opposite camp snubs them by tagging them as being misogynist.
Let’s have a look at both the sides.
The American, Russian style of animation started at the same time as the Japanese. It was the rapid development in the comic books known as Manga which helped develop the unique Japanese style of creation. It grew on to become a major cultural force within Japan.
People related to Manga as the stories written rang true to the readers. The styles which were created also gave birth to a whole new fashion industry in japan. Gone were the ankle length skirts, replaced by practical shorts or skirts which gave fluidity in movement. Goku’s yellow hair became a norm for the youth of Japan.
Unfortunately, these were misjudged by the West to be misogynist and catering to a perverted crowd. Their lack of understanding the language and the context was completely ignored by them.
Walt Disney, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera were amongst the luminaries who have raised the bar to Classical animation to unprecedented heights. Characters infused with super powers became a staple for comic books. They were targeted at a pre-teen / teen audience teaching them morals and how our values influence the world around us.
Today, this has given rise to collectables and a multi Billion franchise industry. While the comics were being devoured by young adults, toddlers and children had their own share of fun. Sunday Cartoons with Huckleberry Hound and the Jetsons was lapped on religiously. This became the norm for American animation. It was considered Wholesome.
Japanese Cartoons usually exaggerate features. Their characters have big eyes, cute button nose and elongated limbs. This was initially done to establish the fluidity in their motion. They usually establish stress by overemphasizing a physical feature or a twitch.
It’s quite polar opposite here. The features are not at all real. They have elongated nose, jaws and at times a rather flat nose. This distortion was done to create a feature which became a trademark of the character. The colours given to The Simpsons apart from mere 4 fingers was done with the intention of holding the viewer captive with the colour.
The stories featured in Anime are very soul stirring. Based on real human experiences, Anime and in turn Manga relate to the viewers. For e.g. : ‘Grave of the Fireflies’. Seeing his sister hallucinating rocks as moon cakes due to hunger not only made the brother cry out in anguish, but also made us choke on tears too.
The western animation has stories which are catered to children. They have the underlying theme of family and are only now opening doors to inter-racial characters. For e.g. : ‘The Princess and the Frog’. Tiana was from New Orleans and the entire movies had southern and jazz influence.
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There is no denying the differences in the culture depicted in the two styles of animation. These cultural differences are now being bridged with the help of social media and language translation apps. The painstaking art form may be ebbing to a close with newer techs and apps which digitally create the illusion of life we see on screen. Cherish it, like we did those early sunday mornings.