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Headscratchers: Western Animation In General
  • Here's a little observation I've made - a lot of cartoons seem to have a very outdated portrayal of zoos. As in, all the animals are in small little cages that they can barely walk in. And this seems to be just cartoons aimed at older children, like The Fairly Oddparents, Johnny Bravo, and The Garfield Show - both shows aimed at younger children, like Team Umizoomi, and shows aimed at adults, like American Dad!, have a more up-to-date portrayal of zoos. And some shows aimed at older children, like The Penguins of Madagascar, have the same portrayal as the former two, but others...don't? Why the hell do these cartoons portray outdated zoos?
    • Rule of Funny?
    • In addition, a lot of animation writers are old. They're rarely younger than middle-aged. They'll remember the world the way they saw it in their childhood. Even then, people who become writers tend to grow up in whatever media they're currently writing for, so they get a lot of first impressions from that media. If they keep portraying zoos inan outdated manner, it'll keep happening because kids keep watching those shows. That's why DC Comics will never be able to dispel the notion of Aquaman being a Joke Character.
  • Why does every single cartoon have an annoying habit of using " Episode Title: Part 2" whenever they decided to do a Multi-Part Episode? Come on, most Anime don't do that.
    • To get more ratings and fans.
    • Most western cartoons do not have a Story Arc unlike anime. This helps tell the audience that this is a continuation of a previous episode and that it'll be useful if you watch the previous episode first.
    • Why does EVERY anime have a story arc? Come on, most western cartoons don't do that!
  • Why is it that children in comedic cartoons are unrealistically short, even for those aimed at children. In Real Life, most ten-year-olds are four feet tall at the least, but in cartoons they appear to be closer to two or three feet tall. For example, in Fairly Oddparents, Timmy Turner is half as tall his parents' legs, but if the show were live-action, his head should be fully above their waists.
    • Most cartoons work through exaggeration, and this is just one expression of it; most kids feel small and dominated (and consequently powerless) by the height of their parents and other adults, so this is just an exaggerated reflection of this.
    • Same reason Calvin was about as tall as a toddler despite being six years old in Calvin and Hobbes.

  • Am I the only one who can't understand why some styles give everybody the same black eye color? Yes, I know it's simpler to give the characters little black dots in their eyes, but really. Would it be that hard to have a little colored dot? If you're trying to figure out what eyes a character has you're going to have a pretty hard time.
    • Mostly, because it doesn't matter, so it's better to go the easier way. Of course, that episode of The Simpsons in which Homer tries to remember Marge's eye color makes little to no sense, but that might be the point (although I think it seriously made little to no sense, indeed), but I think that's only one case where the stylistic convention bit the writers on the ass afterwards.
    • Because sometimes it can look really, really freaky. Especially if they mess it up, which is presumably easy to do.
      • This troper can attest to that.
      • Same here. They did that for the anime Tenchi in Tokyo and it felt unsettling.
    • It also leaves the animators less open to goofs and blunders; easier to remember and be consistent with eye colours if everyone is just a simple black dot than if you have to start juggling different eye colours for different characters.

  • Do Japanese fans of Western Animation have Subbing vs. Dubbing arguments? Is there a subculture in Japan that only watches Western Animation and claims Western Animation to be superior to animation from their own country?
    • This troper doesn't know of that much, but his mom's japanese friend says that some projects for people learning to be a translator actually do watch the cartoons in their native language and then a dub (or vice versa) so they can learn how translation works, same with comic strips but once more, your mileage may vary on that.
    • Odd question. As far as I can tell no. The only particularly popular western animations in Japan (to my knowledge at any rate) are Disney/Pixar and (for some reason) Tom and Jerry, but I've never heard of any of those being subbed. Of course Tom and Jerry don't really speak, which might explain it's international appeal (I also personally find it to be one of my favorite cartoons, but that's beside the point).
    • As a matter of fact, it happens! The Call of Duty video game series has run into this in Japan. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops are available in Japan only on region-locked systems and only in Japanese dubbed voices. The Japanese Call of Duty fans have since been complaining about that terrible Japanese voice acting and have been demanding that Activision make available the wonderful English voice acting with Japanese subtitles. As for Western Animation in general, few of them become popular enough in Japan to get fandoms, and the ones that do are usually just subbed or they make a new version of it, such as Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z.
    • To be fair, Japanese networks generally do not want to air foreign content to begin with; Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z was made because the original cartoon was "too" popular for a Western cartoon, in a sense.

  • I'm the guy who, two threads above, explained why he loves the cartoons from the 1980s so much, even though they're not really Cartoonists' Cartoons, to borrow the Original Poster's term. Now, I'd like to turn the question around. I've been looking into the claims made by John Kricfalusi out of curiosity, and also admittedly in part because I was irritated by his condemnation of the shows I liked as a kid. Kricfalusi keeps talking about how artists should be the ones doing cartoons, and that animation should be "cartoony"...but does that mean that all Western animation can only follow in the footsteps of Looney Tunes? It's almost never the animation that attracts me to a cartoon-it's the writing and the concept behind it. I don't even like cartoony stuff-I outgrew Looney Tunes a long time ago, and as I kid I wasn't impressed either by The New Adventures Of Mighty Mouse or Ren and Stimpy, which I found nauseating, unfunny and painful to watch. When I saw Kricfalusi's comments about the '80s cartoons he hated, I got the impression that he was looking down on the unwashed Philistines like me who actually enjoyed that stuff. So, in essence, I'm asking-how prevalent is that type of John K. mentality among cartoonists and animators? I'm not an animation expert, just a curious casual fan, so take my questions for what they're worth.
    • If you were to ask John K "Why do all cartoons have to follow in the steps of Looney Tunes?", his reply would be "They don't. But why can't at least a few do that?" The way John K (and his fans) see it, cartoons like Looney Tunes and Ren and Stimpy is the lively sort of stuff that animation was made for, whereas other shows lack the sort of expression that cartoonists enjoy and find to be cartoony. A John K follower would say that if you want to "forget what animation is about, fine - but why can't cartoonists get some stuff they enjoy from their own dang medium? We don't even get one every decade." Simply put, John K thinks that you can enjoy your eighties cartoons if you want to, but he wants more of the stuff that in his opinion, defines the animation medium.
      • If John K thinks I can enjoy my '80s cartoons, why does he spend so much time attacking animation writers who can't draw? I can't draw, and if I were ever to become a TV writer, most of what I'd like to do (stuff similar to Batman: The Animated Series, or The Spectacular Spider-Man) would probably be animated. Does that mean I shouldn't be able to participate in animated shows at all, then? And not to mention how his own page on this wiki mentions one of his Berserk Buttons as anyone thinking the story is more important than the art. What he seems to forget is that's why most people actually watch animated shows-because of the stories, not because of the supposed quality of animation or lack thereof.
      • (To the guy above) 1. THAT'S EXACTLY THE POINT. You cannot draw, and supposedly, you don't practice drawing, you've never tried to draw seriously. Therefore, even if the animation is fucking ugly and eye-burning, it doesn't bug you. However, for artists (which dominate the mature audiences still into cartoons), pseudo-realistic Hanna Barbera stuff of the 80s is atrocious and a crime against animation and something that shouldn't have ever existed. 2. Why do you even watch animated shows then if you don't give a damn about the quality of the artwork? I assure you there are tons of live action TV shows that have just as great of a "story and concept behind it". 3. John K writes his blog for people that want to learn to draw like him, and most of it is dedicated to writing about classic principles of animation, he bashes stuff whenever he wants to give an example of how you should not draw if you chose to go the classic way. 4. Looney Tunes was originally made for adults - they were shown in theatres as a short addition to the main feature. No one ever took children to theatres back then. Saying you "outgrew" Looney Tunes is like saying you grew out of eating chocolate.
      • "Guy above" here again. The reason I watch animated shows is the same reason I watch live-action shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, namely that they have a story and concept that appeal to me. Why should I only watch one or the other? As for outgrowing Looney Tunes, perhaps it would be better for me to say that I just lost interest in it and it doesn't appeal to me anymore.
      • I aspire to go into animation, and I can draw. However, unlike John K., I value the writing of an animated production over the visuals. One thing one must consider is that the opinions of a specialist will always be different from the opinions of the mainstream. Good writing carries an animated show's ratings far more than the visuals. Some key examples are The Simpsons, South Park, Crayon Shin Chan, and the Peanuts animated productions. All of them were created and supervised by people with no background in art, and all of them have been consistent ratings champs for the reason that they were carefully and cleverly written. It's quite evident in any ratings chart for any network with successful animated programming, during any time period. For a devoted animator, however, most of their work centers around how something looks. They would naturally be more sensitive to the art of a show than its writing, because they're passionate for the art (which is why they became animators) and because they know more about the art than anything else about cartoons. To them, the wild Looney Tunes, Tex Avery stuff is more fun to watch because they can see the animators' individual work and styles more clearly; and the 80s Hanna-Barbera stuff they loathe with a fiery passion because this was an era when artistic individualism was suppressed. In short, they are watching cartoons for a different reason than you are.
      • "2. Why do you even watch animated shows then if you don't give a damn about the quality of the artwork? I assure you there are tons of live action TV shows that have just as great of a 'story and concept behind it'." So, wait, we need to justify our decision to watch animation as opposed to live action? Who died and made live action the default?

  • A minor thing, but why do they always (and I mean always) draw the Moon disc on the sky so ridiculously gigantic? Like, three or four times larger than normal, and that's the least.
    • Same reason as the kids being tiny from about halfway up this list: Exaggeration. If attention must be drawn to the moon, like when someone's in a romantic mood... or a wolfy mood, the moon will be drawn larger to make sure you, the audience, will pay attention to it.
    • Also, people tend to remember the moon in the night sky as being much larger than its actual size. If it were portrayed realistically, it would seem oddly small.

  • An inquiry of my own, if anyone can answer: Why is there so little overlap between voice actors for American animation and for Japanese animation? That is, guys like Tress Macneille, Maurice Lamarche, Jeff Bennett, Phil Lamarr, Tara Strong, and Jim Cummings are absolutely everywhere in American animation. On the other hand, American localization of anime is full of Vic Mignogna, Johnny Yong Bosch, Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, Kyle Hebert, Michelle Ruff, and Steve Blum. But these guys almost never show up on the other side of animation, if ever. The only people to have lots of experience on both American and Japanese animation I can think of are Yuri Lowenthal and, to a lesser extent, Jennifer Hale. Is it union-related? Are there casting people who are seldom familiar with both groups of voice actors? Are these actors generally suited for one style or another with people who can do both well exceptionally rare? I watch both anime and American animation frequently, and it always feels weird to me that both sides have their own groups and either are largely unaware of the other or don't like to share. (I'd like to hear both sides of this, so this will also be on the Anime Headscratchers page.)
    • The Gap between Californian based voice talent for Video Games and North American Animation is getting smaller than it use to be but only for North American animation as Voice Actors whom are known in Anime English dubs are appearing more frequently in North American Animation. Steve Blum and Kari Wahlgren are the most known examples of this (in which the latter some people even wonder if she is even a Anime VA anymore) however folks like Dave Wittenberg and Yuri Lowenthal are appearing a bit more often as well. Sure there are Californian Anime English Dub Voice Actors whom have had little to no roles in a North American animated show/movie but that is starting to decrease. However the idea of a Voice Actor whom is known in North American animation is still a rarity in Anime English dubs with only a few exceptions such as Cam Clarke (then again he did have a good history with anime ever since the 80s). Issues such as on how North American animation generally have higher budgets than Anime English dubs and on how the Union system is generally more consistent and more likely to treat you better are probably reasons why.
      • However there is a little bit of Values Dissonance here as in Canada especially with studios such as The Ocean Group there is very little to no gap as just about any Voice Actor that has ever worked in places such as Vancouver have been in plenty of Anime English Dubs and North American Animation just about equally. To a much lesser extent the same thing can be said about New York (but to be fair there are a lot more Anime English Dubs than North American Animation voiced in New York).
      • So is it based around location? I've heard about this being the reason why Dan Green works almost exclusively for 4KidsAnimation—because it's the only voice acting studio in New York. I listed the actors above in the initial post because they have all done a LOT of roles and continue to do plenty of voice acting to this day, but with the exception of video game voicing, they've only ever done one or the other. I've actually heard about an American animation voice actor (probably Billy West) lamenting how anime voice actors get big fandoms (especially Vic Mignogna and Johnny Yong Bosch) while guys like him have to stand back quietly and don't get the same kind of name recognition. That's part of why I posed the question. Assuming Billy West did say that, why doesn't he go and audition for FUNimation or Viz Media or Bang Zoom! Entertainment or whatever? He is an extremely talented guy, a true successor to Mel Blanc, so I'm sure anime studios would appreciate his help.

  • Why does every child's show have to have an aesop? It seems like aesops are all some people look for in children's shows. This is understandable if the show is meant to be educational (Barney & Friends, for example), but if the show is simply supposed to be just comedy or action and adventure, why does an aesop have to present somewhere?
    • So parents see it as something other than brain-rotting flickers of light. If they see positive messages in the shows, the'll let their kids watch.
      • Plus, networks often mandate these shows to be educational.

  • Why do people freak out about gun violence in kid's cartoons nowadays when there's a LOT of gun violence in classic cartoons like Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, etc?
    • Well, for one thing, those shorts were released in theatres (not on television), and had a wider audience in mind.
      • Yeah, but they're marketed to kids nowadays, and no one really seems to freak out about them that much. And we see Pepe Le Pew pretend to shoot himself in the head! But did you see a SpongeBob SquarePants or Powerpuff Girls episode where a character shot himself? Even if there was no blood, even if they were faking it, it still wouldn't be allowed.
      • It's also notable that modern cartoons featuring action scenes in the kinda-sorta-real world (e.g. Kim Possible) tend to substitute exotic ray guns and other forms of Family-Friendly Firearms for the real thing.
    • "Classic" cartoons were, by definition, made during a different time with different attitudes.

  • Why is it that cartoons aimed at adult audiences always have to resort to Vulgar Humor and/or Crossing the Line Twice to be funny? Adults commonly watch cartoons like Animaniacs, Rocko's Modern Life, The Powerpuff Girls, SpongeBob SquarePants, Phineas and Ferb, and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, which can all be funny without being crude or vulgar, so why can't adult animation rely on clever writing instead of vulgarity like those cartoons?
    • Well, clearly, they can be, since you just listed some examples. But just because they can be funny without refuge in vulgarity, doesn't mean they must. Different shows aim for different styles of comedy. Just watch the shows you like.
    • The funny thing about all of those shows you just listed is they all have Getting Crap Past the Radar pages. Especially Animaniacs and Rocko.

  • Why are most lovable cartoons turn into sadist shows? Shows like Spongebob, Family Guy, The Fairly Oddparents, and Ed Eddn Eddy started out as decent shows who would let the main characters win 50-70 percent of the time, but now the shows are flanderized into sadist shows that just revolve around pain and making the main characters' lives miserable. Something tells me that the writers are doing it on purpose.
    • Running the Asylum, pure and simple. Well, in the case of Spongebob, Family Guy, and The Fairly OddParents. (The Eds, to my knowledge, had mostly come out as the losers since the beginning of the series, the main difference being that it was originally usually Eddy alone). For some reason, fans of shows seem to like taking brightly colored, positive-toned shows and making something dark and gory out of them. You can see this happening with My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, THE brightly-colored, positive-toned show on television right now, and the runaway popularity of the horror fanfic "Cupcakes." One can only hope that these guys will not be writing the show a few years from now...That, and the other possible reason is that sliding the morality of the show down is an easy way to do Serial Escalation to continue to surprise long-time viewers.

  • Are The New Tens starting to look like The Sixties, aka The Dark Age of Animation, all over again for animation? We all know that computer animation has dominated traditional animation in Hollywood last decade; however, Disney successfully revived the latter with The Princess and the Frog and the Winnie the Pooh reboot in the past few years, but now they're considering replacing classic traditional pencil and paper with Cel Shading (Paperman, anyone?) which would be sad. Is the classic, 1940s/1950s-esque animation style that's been used in several movies during The Renaissance Age of Animation starting to get wiped out and be replaced/dominated by CGI, cel shading, faux xerography, and Flash animation?
    • I would disagree. It seems to be heading in a different direction. Plenty of television animation is still 2-D hand drawn traditional, though of course it is all digital now because cel animation studios had gone extinct due to lack of profitability. (The Simpsons remained cel-animated for as long as possible and only went digital because Gracie Films could no longer find cel animators.) Limited animation has been the predominant way to do television animation for at least as long as the Renaissance Age, so nothing has changed on this front and that age showed that limited animation can be good too if the writing is good. Shows like Sym-Bionic Titan and The Legend of Korra still exist, showing that they are not getting replaced. As for Flash, The Hub is currently the only channel with a large quantity of Flash-animated programming (and that is most likely because they all share an animation team). Animation everywhere else is dominated by traditional, albeit digital, hand-drawn work.

      If you're speaking only from animated film, then yes, I do see traditional 2-D animation becoming a novelty. In a way, it already is. Traditional 2-D animation for movies has not been able to compete at the box office with 3-D CGI. The main audience for most of these movies, children, are more wowed by 3-D C Gi than 2-D traditional animation. I don't see this as a bad thing though—it's a paradigm shift, much like how silent films got replaced by talkies and black-and-white by color. Neither silent films have vanished, nor black-and-white films (The Artist is a shining example of both, done in the 21st century, that could not have been improved by making it a talkie or giving it color). I don't think 2-D animated film will ever go away either. It'll just be mostly the domain of independent artists and the occasional experimental film.

      In either case, the writing quality has improved greatly, if you ask me, both on television and at the movie theater, which I feel is most important.

      Yes, I know many people do not like this at all. The same things happened when sound film came about and when color film came about—heck, there was an outcry when longer narrative film displaced quick slice-of-life films like The Man with a Movie Camera.

    Headscratchers/WESTERNANIMATION3-2-1 Penguins!

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