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Latest Trends in Animation
Mateusz Kowalczyk, 14.06.2018

Latest Trends in Animation

Animation has come a long way since its beginnings in the first decade of the 20th century.

Its changing trends and the resulting transformations reflect not only the dynamic nature of animation itself, but also the shifts taking place in technology and popular culture.

 

What are the newest trends in animation that will define its future progress? Read below and find out.

1. Global vs Local Animation Trends

Global distribution of American cartoons supplied by the famous studio for a long time made Disney the hegemon in the animation world. For viewers from outside the United States watching cartoons naturally meant deciphering culturally-determined messages and appropriating them to cultural codes of their own.

Producers from all corners of the world choose animation as the medium through which they tell ethnic stories, talk about events significant to their region, and present these events using elements of local setting and scenography.

Producers from all corners of the world choose animation as the medium through which they tell ethnic stories, talk about events significant to their region, and present these events using elements of local setting and scenography.

Now, the long-established domination of Disney Studios is being challenged. Producers from all corners of the world choose animation as the medium through which they tell ethnic stories, talk about events significant to their region, and present these events using elements of local setting and scenography.

 

New studios are on the rise that equal Disney in their inventiveness and appeal. Perhaps the most prominent of them are Studio Ghibli from Tokyo and Cartoon Saloon from Ireland. The former is responsible for such world-famous anime feature films as Spirited Away or Howl's Moving Castle; so far, five of their productions have received Academy Awards. The latter is best known for The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. Their animated films have received three Oscar nominations.

2. New Distribution Channel

Not only the methods of production of animated films have changed completely in recent years, but also the methods of their distribution.

 

The Internet distribution has made cartoons more widely-available than ever before. It’s true that the variety of children’s channels in Europe is still vast with 329 channels on offer in 2017. Still, such platforms as Netflix and other VoD services are expected to soon start pushing cartoon TV channels out of the market.
 

Not only the methods of production of animated films have changed completely in recent years, but also the methods of their distribution.

Not only the methods of production of animated films have changed completely in recent years, but also the methods of their distribution.

At the same time, let's not forget about Internet animation, that is those films which never found their way into television, were posted only on the web and achieved an enormous success. A great example here would be Mike and Mat Chapman's Homestar Runner: an incredibly popular Flash cartoon originally launched on the brothers' dedicated website. Happy Tree Friends from Mondo Media should also be mentioned in this context. The cartoon has used the freedom offered by the Internet to the full by presenting a grotesque juxtaposition of cute forest animals with extremely graphic violent acts, such as bloodshed or dismemberment.

3. The Advent of the Brave Heroine

Full-blown feminism may have started in the 1960s, but not until very recently have traditional female-heroine archetypes been questioned. Luckily, next to rapid technological advancements in animated production, the 21st century has also brought us a new kind of princess, no longer waiting to be rescued by her prince.

New female protagonists are three-dimensional, full-blooded characters with psychological depth, who are liked and admired by both male and female viewers.

New female protagonists are three-dimensional, full-blooded characters with psychological depth, who are liked and admired by both male and female viewers.

The new princess isn't a stereotypical damsel in distress, but an intrepid explorer looking for exciting adventures. She welcomes the prospect of romance, but remains self-sufficient and goal-driven. New female protagonists are three-dimensional, full-blooded characters with psychological depth, who are liked and admired by both male and female viewers.


  
Elsa from Frozen, Saorise from Song of the Sea and the eponymous Merida from Pixar's 2012 production all embody this more-than-welcome break with gender stereotyping in animated films. 

4. New Target Groups

New target groups have become prominent among cartoon viewership in recent years, that is toddlers under the age of 3 and teenagers older than 16. 

The demand entails the production of animated films that focus on content digestible for the youngest viewers, such as music, nursery rhymes and lullabies.

The demand entails the production of animated films that focus on content digestible for the youngest viewers, such as music, nursery rhymes and lullabies.

This has caused the market to expect animations for children who aren't yet conscious cultural recipients. The demand entails the production of animated films that focus on content digestible for the youngest viewers, such as music, nursery rhymes and lullabies

 

On the other hand, the teenage audience demands witty cartoons which skillfully balance up-to-date topics with adult humour. This need has been partly fulfilled by such animations as Rick & Morty or BoJack Horseman

The teenage audience demands witty cartoons which skillfully balance up-to-date topics with adult humour.

The teenage audience demands witty cartoons which skillfully balance up-to-date topics with adult humour.

5. Animation and Nostalgia

Despite its novelty, animation is not only the medium of the future but also a way to reconnect with the past. Animation goes vintage, and by employing old motives and techniques it builds on its artistic value.

 

Paradoxically, Millennials, who grew up during the time of the Disney Renaissance, seem more nostalgic than any generation before them. The unprecedented popularity of vinyls, the craze for Pokemon Go, and the increase in sales of printed books in 2015 are all testament to this. Perhaps it is the sudden technological progress which ultimately shaped their early years that makes them want to go back to the happy safety of their mobile-free childhoods.

 

This need is expressed in the common demand for nostalgic returns to different patterns, styles and techniques in pop culture, which also encompasses animation. One of those big returns is the revival of 2D animation, and within it the revival of other, older, techniques, such as collage.

With its dynamically changing trends, animation is finally claiming its rightful place as a form of art.

With its dynamically changing trends, animation is finally claiming its rightful place as a form of art.

Animation, like any form of art, both evolves and revolves. Through new trends in animation stereotypes are overturned, and some motives make nostalgic returns. New agencies arise that challenge long-established hierarchies. New methods of distribution appear, and the films develop in line with both technological breakthroughs and the expectations of  evolving societies. In other words, with its dynamically changing trends, animation is finally claiming its rightful place as a form of art.

Mateusz Kowalczyk

Mateusz Kowalczyk / CEO & Producer

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