Existentialism in Cartoons: Bojack Horseman and Rick & Morty

Existentialism in Cartoons: Bojack Horseman and Rick & Morty

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To the average person, cartoons are viewed as a form of stress-free entertainment targeted at children. This category of television is rarely expected to dive deep into philosophical concepts centering reality as we currently know it. And it is most definitely not synonymous to an immersive vehicle that evokes thought-including questions about life, death, and existence as a whole. However, the series Rick and Morty and Bojack Horseman have truly altered the way in which many people view television animation, in that they have introduced an abundance of blunt self-awareness which centers many plot points and character qualities within the two programs.   More importantly, these elaborate series have showcased the fact that animation as a genre can have a relatable layer of existential complexity within its storytelling.   Existentialism is the philosophical thought that "existence…
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Watching Animation Critically.

Watching Animation Critically.

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Progressive. Deep. Intriguing. Complex. These words are not often associated with Western animation.   In most cases, cartoons are presented as naïve works that double as a stand-in babysitter for young children. Animation is historically not meant to be taken seriously. But I believe that all media content that we are exposed to should be approached at least partially from a critical perspective. We should analyze the content that we consume, whether it be music, television, film, or video games, as each of these cannot escape socialized structures that we live within—and in many cases, are desensitized to. The reason why animation, along with other media, should be viewed critically is because they are created within structures that both emphasize and reflect our daily lives. As a result, many animated…
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Is Japanese Anime Misogynistic?

Is Japanese Anime Misogynistic?

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Anime has changed the way that many people watch American animation. After being widely-introduced to US cable in 1997 through the beloved Toonami segment of Adult Swim, viewers began to expect more from animation in general. More specifically, they began to crave continuity, overarching plots, and character development. And as the 2010s approached, they began to truly see the impact that the complexity of anime has had on American works.   Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Steven Universe, the list goes on.   The new decade raised young creators who grew up watching anime and who genuinely believed that American animation could follow suit in telling deep and intriguing stories.   Japanese animation is treated as an inspiration because it conquers American storytelling and visual quality on many fronts; however, as great…
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Top 10 Female Characters in Animated Television

Top 10 Female Characters in Animated Television

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Western cartoons have come extremely far when compared to a decade ago. 2010 to 2015 has really marked a progressive stage of animation; not only in terms greater complex storytelling elements, but also layered and unproblematic characterization. We are beginning to witness a much more diverse cast of protagonists and supporting characters across many titles. And alongside showcasing diversity in terms of culture and sexuality, the number of well-portrayed female characters is on the rise. So in paying homage to these progressive changes, this post will count down the top female characters of animated television. But before we begin, let's set some ground rules:     This is a completely subjective list created by me, a subjective human. As such, it will only series that I have personally watched in their entirety .…
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Sym-bionic Titan: Why Merchandising and Quality Animation Don’t Mix

Sym-bionic Titan: Why Merchandising and Quality Animation Don’t Mix

Blog, Cartoons, Critical Discussions
Sym-bionic Titan is a series that was unfortunately cancelled before it even had a chance to establish itself in the world of animated television. Created by the legendary Genndy Tartakovsky, who is also responsible for bringing us Dexter's Laboratory  and Samurai Jack, the series was extremely promising. But because it only lived through a short 20-episode run, it wasn't able to establish a strong enough fan base to successfully protest its demise.   The series centers a princess (Ilana) and her two guardians (Lance and Octus) who witness the hostile takeover of their home planet, so flee to Earth for the sake of Ilana's safety. In appearing very human-like, posing as a family to hide in plain sight is the move they decide to make. What drives the series is that these alien characters are borne warriors who can each…
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Star & Marco’s Guide to Mastering Every Dimension: Animation & Book Publishing

Star & Marco’s Guide to Mastering Every Dimension: Animation & Book Publishing

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Book publishing appears to be moving in an upwards trend in relation to animated television. In selling merchandise, but doing so in a "sophisticated" way, book publishing seems to carry more of a favorable connotation than toy production. Star Vs. the Forces of Evil has recently released the published title Star and Marco's Guide to Mastering Every Dimension, and in being willing to turn away children's merchandising in favor of published works implies that the creators are targeting a slightly older audience- in terms of both tangible and intangible material.   Lets discuss something important before moving on with this topic: Is producing merchandise for animated television series a thoughtless move? As I mentioned in the post about the commodification of female empowerment in animation, this isn't necessarily an issue: In order to create content…
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Star Vs. The Forces of Evil: Emotions Done Right

Star Vs. The Forces of Evil: Emotions Done Right

Blog, Cartoons, Critical Discussions
  With only a couple days left until Star vs. the Forces of Evil's season-2 finale, the downpour of episodes we've been spoiled with leading to this two-part television event has come with many interesting revelations. Plot development and character growth are two significant features of the series that places it in the high-quality & must-watch television categories. Season one only began to find its footing towards its last few episodes, but season two has proven itself to be exceptionally enjoyable, to the point where any viewer uncertainty that came about in season one is long forgotten.   As a character, Star has gone through a large amount of change. At the beginning of the series she was simply a naive and destructive princess battling ill-equipped and incompetent monsters. Now she is a queen-to-be who…
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DC Superhero Girls: Capitalizing on Female Empowerment

DC Superhero Girls: Capitalizing on Female Empowerment

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The conception of female empowerment in modern-day media is beginning to seep into the realm of Western animation. Both Steven Universe (based on popular opinion) and Star vs. the Forces of Evil are presently-broadcasted, highly-rated animated series that portray female characters in a powerful and unproblematic light. In this sense we can argue that the series which are currently of high-status in the world of animation come from feminist perspectives.   But these aren't the series of focus in this article. The series under the critical telescope is DC Superhero Girls, webisodes featuring the prominent females of the DC universe (e.g. Wonderwoman, Harley Quinn, Batgirl, etc.)  interacting in a high school-based setting- one tailored to the superhero lifestyle, of course. The webseries follows a similar format to Monster High and Ever After High, which also consist of short online…
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Where are the Girl-Crazed Boys in Animation?

Where are the Girl-Crazed Boys in Animation?

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  Western animation does this all the time: It gives female characters a "boy-crazed" trait. And it's not just treated as a minor characteristic. Typically, its a defining element of their personalities. Western animation seems to carry the impression that young females are constantly engaged in high/middle-school crushes—and it can be quite humorous. But more importantly it begs the question of: Where are the girl-crazed boys? Let's start off by looking at Disney Channel's longest-aired television program Phineas and Ferb. This series stars two young boys who decide that they want to create the most spontaneous summer ever by building daily wild contraptions. The series was quite male-led, which was obvious in its premise. And adding to the heteronormative perspective from which its story is told, the two most significant female characters, Candace Flynn-Fletcher and Isabella Garcia-Shapiro, are…
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X-Men Evolution: When “for kids” and Complexity Meet

X-Men Evolution: When “for kids” and Complexity Meet

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X Men: Evolution (2000-2003) is the long-forgotten animated series that was known to be either a hit or miss among young viewers and long-time X-Men fans alike. As the successor of the highly-rated 90's X-Men cartoon, many people were upset at how Evolution strayed away from this series and, consequently, the original comics. Targeted towards a much younger audience, the latter show placed more focus on developing the social dynamic of the X-Men as high school youth over their lives as mutant superheroes.   Despite the series' stray from its origin, its premise was refreshing in the world of animation at the time of its broadcast. Characterization is very strong, especially for having such a large ensemble of protagonists- each character managed to get their turn in the spotlight. And because the series…
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