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Media Notes / The Millennium Age of Animation

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This is the Age of Animation which started in the early '00s with the end of the Renaissance Age and has continued to the present day. The usage of traditional 2D animation methods that thrived in the previous eras is now seemingly all but abandoned, at least when it comes to American works; rendered 3D and Flash animation are the rule, not the exception, just as Limited Animation ruled the Dark Age during the '60s, '70s, and early '80s (especially animation not coming from the USA or Japan). A lot of these shifts resulted from the constant deterioration of the global recession, which came to a head in 2008 and resulted in cheaper production procedures like outsourcing, studios taking safer bets, higher competition, bankruptcy, and massive layoffs. It didn't help that any fan of content from the Renaissance Age couldn't get any decent work in the field by the time they were finally grown up and out of school. Studios hired unpaid interns by the hundreds, and veterans from the past eras were either out of work, doing their own thing, or dead.

One notable feature of this era is its near-total lack of continuity with earlier eras, at least on the viewer side – during the Dark Age, Golden-era shorts regularly aired alongside contemporary fare; and during the Renaissance Age, cartoons from both previous eras had wide exposure (although Golden-era shorts often had edits for content). Today, Values Dissonance is the usual offered explanation for the general disappearance of classic cartoon shorts from television. Many of these may be perceived as not politically correct by modern audiences... and DVD compilations of classic cartoon shorts often contain an unskippable foreword to stress this point. The ever-expanding news hole on local broadcast stationsnote  has also played a role in displacing cartoons.

Disney began to experience its first box office failures since the early '80s. Treasure Planet is often cited as the film where the downward spiral began, though some say it began earlier with Pocahontas (which made money but was a critical disappointment, while also having the added misfortune of being put up against the immensely successful CGI-pioneering film we know as Toy Story). The company's next films would each do worse than its predecessor with the sole exception of Lilo & Stitch. After the failure of Home on the Range, Disney announced that it would discontinue traditional animation for good (blaming the medium itself instead of, perhaps, the Misaimed Marketing that went on for most of these movies). For the next five years, they certainly tried to kill 2D animation; their second attempt at producing a rendered 3D film of their own, Chicken Little, had a mediocre showing (but ended up making a profit)—then there was a two-year gap before their next canon entry, Meet the Robinsons, was released. That film was followed in 2008 by Bolt, which achieved (at least) critical success in spite of having languished in Development Hell after a much-needed Executive Meddling by John Lasseter.

While this was going on, Disney was undergoing a shake-up in upper management. Since the release of Toy Story, Disney had been the distributor for all of Pixar's films, which were making much more money for them than most of their in-house fare. There was prolonged wrestling between the two companies over creative control, IP rights, and financial stakes over the films. In 2004, Pixar announced that they would be seeking other distribution partners when their contract with Disney was up—despite this, the two companies continued to negotiate in an attempt to patch things up. While this was going on, Michael Eisner left Disney in 2005—some say "pushed out", as Disney was struggling across the board and Eisner was one of the main obstacles to cooperation with Pixar. Ultimately, Disney bought Pixar outright in 2006, though Pixar was allowed to remain a separate entity; as part of the deal, Pixar co-founder John Lasseter became Disney's Chief Creative Officer and Pixar studio president Edwin Catmull also became president of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Allegedly, one of Lasseter's first executive actions was to discontinue the rampant Direct to Video sequels of Disney's back catalog and put that specific animation division - Disneytoon Studios - to work on new properties (such as the current CG Tinker Bell series). Under Lasseter's watch, traditional animation also got a second chance with The Princess and the Frog. The movie was successful enough to make Disney agree to greenlight a new traditionally animated film every two years, starting with Winnie the Pooh (2011). Around this time, a number of Disney classics got converted to the 3D format using the same process as Pooh and were re-released theatrically in short runnings, the first title of which - The Lion King 3D - has been met with rave success. Their next 2D release was to be an adaptation of Mort; however, the film was cancelled due to rights issues, most likely because of the upcoming Discworld live-action TV series. On March 23, 2012, 38-year Disney animator and producer Glen Keane officially resigned, signalling that Lasseter has yet failed to bring traditional animation back to the forefront, and proving that despite his efforts, Disney still has no hand-drawn animation on the pipeline! Their other originally planned hand-drawn movies, based on Rapunzel and The Snow Queen, were taken off the shelf and made and released as CG features. Tangled and Frozen ended up huge successes for the Disney Animated Canon, and as of 2013, Bob Iger announced there are no hand-drawn animated Disney movies in the foreseeable future from their main feature animation department.

Network Decay has had a devastating effect on television animation. Many basic cable channels have jettisoned their Saturday Morning Cartoons and after-school blocks due to cable competition and increasing restrictions on advertising, and for the longest time, 4Kids Entertainment was the only game left (and even they had been facing financial problems), before bankruptcy came and forced them to sell part of their empire to Saban Brands, including their block on The CW, which was renamed Vortexx, which was ultimately the final traditional Saturday morning cartoon block. Meanwhile, syndicator Litton Entertainment created a monopoly over what was left, first taking over ABC's airtime, then replacing preschool cartoon block Cookie Jar TV on CBS, then taking over the five-hour timeslot where Vortexx resided, and finally replacing NBC's block of shows culled from sister network Sprout. As a result, the only major over-the-air networks still airing animation are Foxnote  and PBSnote .

Cartoon Network was hit by this for a period of time. While 2001 and 2004 have been considered turning points of mixed reception for the network, 2007 is generally agreed to be where CN suffered a serious blow thanks to an executive purge brought about by an ill-advised [adult swim] viral marketing campaign being interpreted by humorless Bostonians as a terrorist threat. This resulted in the network's new top brass pushing increasingly towards live-action kids' shows for a time in order to compete with Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel, which in turn had become increasingly dependent on their respective Cash Cow Franchises (live-action Kid Coms for Disney and SpongeBob for Nick), while [adult swim] also followed suit by increasingly pushing live-action comedies while at the same time becoming over-reliant on its Cash Cow Franchises to keep all of CN afloat such as Family Guy and American Dad!. Thankfully, though, this trend has decreased since 2010, at least during the day, thanks to shows like Adventure Time and Steven Universe, but the trend of serious action/adventure cartoons has seen a decline outside of the revived Toonami. Over the course of the 2010s, Cartoon Network would gradually discard or cancel most of its action cartoons in favor of comedy series such as Teen Titans Go! and The Amazing World of Gumball. Toon Disney, meanwhile, was consumed by Jetix and eventually scrapped altogether to make way for Disney XD. Cartoons from previous eras were either shoved onto Boomerang or not shown at all, relegated chiefly to DVD releases. While home video releases of classic cartoons thrived during the early-to-mid 2000s, this trend eventually came to a crawl when a combination of piddling sales, the high cost of restoring the cartoons, and the general state of the economy caused many companies to pull back or scale down future releases of old cartoons, much to the chagrin of many collectors.note  Even many 1990s shows have found it hard to find a foothold on cable or DVD, with studios like Warner Bros. preferring to reinvent their core and acquired Golden and Dark Age franchises (Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo) through new productions for the direct-to-video, cable, and occasionally theatrical markets with extremely mixed success.

Anime dubbing has struggled too. Geneon and ADV Films both folded from poor sales, Network Decay resulting in disappearing anime blocks on television, and competition from online subtitled episodes (which could be posted shortly after their Japanese premieres) released by fans and streaming services such as Crunchyroll. Funimation was probably the only dubbing studio to remain prosperous—it acquired a number of Geneon, ADV, and 4Kids' titles, while continuing to license new titles—but even they have had financial issues. After its fold, ADV eventually formed Sentai Filmworks, and along with Funimation, Aniplex, NIS America and (who else?) Disney, are currently holding licenses to the majority of essential anime titles on this side of the Pacific (though NIS America only started dubbing them in 2014). Around New Years Day 2012, Bandai Entertainment announced their end releasing prints and DVDs of manga and anime, focusing on digital distribution, broadcast and merchandising instead.

Overall, thanks in large part to economic woes mentioned above, animation as a whole is widely considered to have suffered in the late 2000s (around 2006-2009), though there are exceptions. Avatar: The Last Airbender started a growing trend of high-budget animated action series for TV. Often, these series are anime-influenced, in which the influence of anime on American shows is largely the reason for the rise of shows with continuous, overarching story lines such as the aforementioned Avatar, which may be a Trope Codifier in this regard. Further examples of shows of this type include Star Wars: Clone Wars (the non-canon Tartakovsky 2D cartoon), Star Wars: The Clone Wars (the canonical Lucas CGI series), Samurai Jack, The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Batman, Sym-Bionic Titan, Thunder Cats 2011, and Young Justice, a number of them becoming smash successes in their own right. One could very well say that, generally speaking, action cartoons produced in America have actually reached a higher medium standard than what was the case during the Renaissance Age (back then, while mature action cartoons did exist, the vast majority were quite juvenile and rarely had very complex storylines). A looser continuity is still the norm when it comes to comedy shows however, such as SpongeBob SquarePants, which rose to the position of Nickelodeon's Cash-Cow Franchise, and Disney's Phineas and Ferb. There are also shows that do have a mix of both serial and episodic elements such as My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, a series from the 2010s based on the popular toy line for girls which created a stir in large part because it played a major role in blurring the line between "girl shows" and "general audience shows". That and the show itself created an unexpected Periphery Demographic of adult male fans.

In contrast to the problems that animation for television has faced, the theatrical feature film market is thriving. Up through the Renaissance, it was a high-risk field with intimidating high stakes that has eventually crushed all comers outside of Disney, even greats like the Fleischer Brothers and Don Bluth. Now, it has become a highly competitive field with more animated features being produced by more major American companies as viable, sustained competitors than any time in history. The opening signal could be considered when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) introduced the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film starting in 2001, indicating a new level of respect and vibrancy for the art form; it could also be considered an aid to encourage more films, since they now have an Oscar of their own to shoot for. This presented a problem, too: with animation in its own category, there is an implication that an animated film will never be considered for plain old "Best Picture".note  This trend was reversed thanks to Pixar and the Academy's expansion of the Best Picture category to up to ten nominees—Up and Toy Story 3 got nominated for Best Picture in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

The big champion in the field of American animated films is undoubtedly Pixar; it still flourishes and finds success to this day, thanks to their extremely solid track record in regards to the quality of their films, at least until Cars 2 proved a critical embarrassment in 2011. However, the company that blew open the field was DreamWorks Animation (the spiritual successor to Steven Spielberg's earlier animation studio, Amblimation). Although its Renaissance Era traditionally-animated films like Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas all flopped (the exception being The Prince of Egypt), the company's partnership with Aardman Animations (with features like Chicken Run and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) proved a real success. However, it was their runaway success of Shrek in 2001 that finally helped get the company begin to wrestle down the All Animation Is Disney stereotype while taking the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Alas, while Shrek 2 was an artistic success, the company's fortunes sank through the decade until they hit their nadir in 2007 with critically derided embarrassments like Shark Tale, Shrek the Third, and Bee Movie (although the latter eventually garnered a cult status due to Memetic Mutation), while alienating Aardman into ending their partnership when Flushed Away underperformed. However, everything changed between 2008 and 2012, when the studio grew its beard with hailed new franchises like Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon that signaled a new commitment to good storytelling even as the Shrek series wound down and the Madagascar series made the transition beautifully with improving films. After 2012, they seem to suffer from creating films that are not so well received whether critically or financially (although, there were a few exceptions) compared to their films prior and a string of box office bombs during that period resulted the company to layoff numerous of their staff members. DreamWorks eventually found it own success again thanks to films like Trolls and The Boss Baby, as well as through Netflix series like Tales of Arcadia and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. At the same time, they were also brought out by Comcast, the parent company of Universal.

There are also the efforts of production studios like Blue Sky Studios' (for 20th Century Fox) Ice Age series (who would eventually became defunct in 2021 due to the Disney-Fox merger); Warner Brothers' Happy Feet and The LEGO Movie; Sony Pictures Animation's Open Season (who would eventually produce one of the most hated and one of the most beloved animated movies); and Illumination Entertainment's Despicable Me (who would eventually become Disney's biggest animation rival in the 2010s (more about this below)). Even ILM got in on the action with its debut film, Rango, which encouraged Paramount to get into the animation game with their own department 40+ years after they fired Ralph Bakshi in closing their old one in 1967. (Incidentally, Avatar isn't listed here because, despite the fact that the bulk of it is computer-generated, it does have live-action human characters, so it is not considered an animated film.) Going further, Reel FX started their own line of animated rendered 3D features with Free Birds, and then The Book of Life from the creator of the Nicktoon El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera, and more smaller studios are bound to start in the game too.

By the mid-2010's, the film medium of this era had been highlighted by increasing competition from the major film studios, hoping to take down Disney/Pixar as the king of the box office in terms of animated movies. Perhaps the most successful of the bunch was long-time Disney rival Universal, owners of Illumination. Their success in terms of box office competition with Disney was deemed a head-scratcher by many, as Universal hadn't had a successful animation track record for over a decade, and didn't release a computer-animated film until 2008, with The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie (and that was a distribution-only effort, having had no involvement in production whatsoever). In 2015, Universal/Illumination's sole release that year, Minions, out-grossed not just both of Disney/Pixar's films released during that year (Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur, the latter of which was a rare box office misstep for Pixar), but the entire competition in terms of animated movies didn't stand a chance as well. Disney regained the upper hand the following year with hits like Zootopia and Finding Dory, but with Universal's high-profile $3.8 billion acquisition of DreamWorks Animation (which led to comparisons of that and Disney's acquisition of Pixar the decade before) and the substantial success of Illumination's The Secret Life of Pets and Sing, it's safe to assume that the increasingly-heated rivalry between Disney and Universal will be here to stay for a while.

The 2000s have also been experiencing a minor stop-motion renaissance. In addition to DreamWorks and Aardman's features, Laika formed out of the long-dormant Will Vinton Studios, creator of the classic claymation shorts. They first aided on Tim Burton's Corpse Bride and then produced three of their own feature films, Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, and Kubo and the Two Strings, which all enjoyed critical approval (Boxtrolls a bit less so). In addition, Tim Burton partnered with Disney again to do another stop-motion film, Frankenweenie. Director Wes Anderson has also applied his talents to the field of stop motion twice so far, with both features receiving critical (and, in the latter's case, financial) acclaim. Aardman, meanwhile, has slowly but surely carved out a small niche for themselves both on television and film. Although the company's most iconic duo have eaten their last Wensleydale and retirednote , since 2010, the company has produced new works at the rate of approximately one film every three years or so. Henry Selick, director of both Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas, has his projects often go through Development Hell since releasing Coraline up until he released Wendell & Wild.

On the Direct to Video market, the fans of the DC Animated Universe franchise found a new source of sophisticated Super Hero animation with the DC Universe Animated Original Movies—and, to a lesser extent, the Marvel Universe videos. All of these films were explicitly produced for the formerly Periphery Demographic of teens and adults.

European traditional animation, meanwhile, has made a comeback with the development of several new studios and directors who have produced critically acclaimed films, including The Secret of Kells and The Triplets of Belleville. These films tend to address serious or artistic subjects in an avant-garde style (influenced by John Hubley and lost animated classics such as The Thief and the Cobbler) while still going out of their way to appeal to families with small children. On the Japanese side of things, Hayao Miyazaki and his colleagues have carried the torch for traditional, movie-plotted, fully-animated films in Japan, returning to hand-drawn films which Disney (and especially John Lasseter, a Ghibli fanboy) has taken it on to promote in the US, with mixed results.note  The result has been a series of art films that didn't do well in the US, but were critically acclaimed enough to grow their studios. The challenge, of course, will be to determine how long the backers of such films insist on making art films restricted to families with children.

Other nations not previously known for a worldwide animation audience are also starting to show a stronger presence in the animation industry. In particular, 2015 saw a rising trend in viable, original Chinese animated feature films and anime-inspired video games, signaling a new player in international animation on the horizon. European countries such as France and Italy have also brought in anime-inspired series such as Totally Spies!, Code Lyoko, Winx Club, Wakfu and Miraculous Ladybug with some, like Winx and Miraculous, have also garnered mainstream popularity worldwide.

This era also saw "adult-aimed" cartoons, which started their comeback with The Simpsons in the 80s, reaching mainstream status with the ongoing success of shows like South Park, Futurama, Family Guy, as well as The Simpsons itself, along with many others. Fox's Animation Domination block brought adult animation to those without cable, while Cartoon Network's nighttime block, [adult swim], which turned out to be responsible for Family Guy and Futurama both getting Un-Cancelled, also brought innovation into the genre. After the fall of Toonami, Adult Swim continued airing adult-oriented anime as well, while 4Kids still aired watered-down dubs of anime on Saturday mornings for the kiddies up until the block ended in 2008. Syfy showed Anime for a period, but it was short lived, ending in 2011 as part of the network's shift from Sci-Fi in general. MTV brought back their '90s Liquidation animation block in 2011 with a revival of Beavis And Butthead, which also ended up being short-lived. Adult cartoons of the era were notorious for their reliance on pop culture references and Black Comedy, though this started to change in the mid-2010's with new adult shows like Rick and Morty and BoJack Horseman that forsake cheap shock humor for strong storytelling and Character Development. 2019 even saw the release of Primal, the first successful American adult animated drama. Overall, the Animation Age Ghetto is slowly disappearing, though there is still a long way to go yet.

Anime, on the other hand, continues to be popular among teens and young adults, although the effects of the Animation Age Ghetto polarize it just as it does Western Animation. The Anime industry was also successfully able to open a new front in subscription and ad-supported streaming (including same-day uploads with Japanese television broadcasts), both on their own websites such as Crunchyroll and Funimation; and on general video services such as Hulu and Netflix. Series such as Sword Art Online, Attack on Titan, One-Punch Man and My Hero Academia contributed to this by gaining success and popularity even before dubbing and home distribution. Due to the success of anime streaming (and in part due to Funimation releasing simuldubs in which other dubbing companies followed a similar practice, as well as being brought out by Sony Pictures), many more dubs have also been produced by dubbing studios in the mid to late 2010s having fully recovered from the effects of the closure of many distribution companies in the late 2000s (despite the fact that there's still the whole Subbing Versus Dubbing debate within the anime fandom).

On the Internet, a huge amount of Adobe Flash animation (most of which can be viewed for free) has arisen in various genres, with fewer restrictions on creativity than commercial releases. Leading the way here is the popularity of the Flash site Newgrounds. While the early 2000s saw a rise of ultraviolent genre series like Madness Combat, Lobo (Webseries) and Happy Tree Friends, more sophisticated series also appeared as time went on. In The New '10s, the techniques honed on the internet to make the animations would make the transition to television in successful shows animated in Flash or its sister program Toon Boom, allowing for a more streamlined production and, as a result, much better animation.

By far the most remarkable transformation in the industry during this period has been the rise of animated series—and even feature-length films— for streaming platforms such as Netflix. These include a number of works that tackle themes movie studios and TV networks would be understandably averse to including in animation. Many of them, such as BoJack Horseman, Castlevania and Undone, are bona fide adult animated dramas, of the sort that have rarely been seen before in the United States. Classic cartoons have made a comeback in a major way due to streaming, as the Classic Disney Shorts, Looney Tunes, Popeye, Tom and Jerry and The Flintstones are marquee titles of Disney+ and HBO Max and more accessible than ever before.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has affected animation like it has the rest of the entertainment industry. While live-action feature movies have mostly had their release dates postponed due to the Coronavirus's impact on movie theaters, Trolls World Tour made history by bypassing theaters completely for a direct-to-VOD release. SCOOB!, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, and Soul followed suit, resulting in almost all of 2020's schedule of animated features bypassing theaters entirely. In addition, due to the impact of the pandemic in the west, Japan actually managed to surpass all of the films released in 2020 with The Movie of the anime adaptation of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba by becoming the highest grossing film of that year note . With that, it also became the highest grossing film in Japan of all time beating the Academy Award winning Spirited Away (which had held the title for nearly two decades).

However, in other respects, the Coronavirus has given animation an edge over live-action, as the former can be produced remotely and without human contact much more easily than the latter. Netflix and other streaming outlets have redoubled their committment to animation, promising even greater amounts of animated content for both child and adult audiences. Production on most shows has been able to continue during the pandemic with some adjustments, to the point where the Writers Guild of America has urged live-action writers left unemployed by the pandemic to pursue work on animated projects.

In a particularly noteworthy trend at the time, a couple of live-action shows spent their production working on completely animated episodes. The Season 7 finale of live-action series The Blacklist had segements produced with pre-visual 3DCG animation, stylized like a comic, as the virus precluded filming it as normal. The returning seasons of Blackish, PEN15, and One Day at a Time (2017) each had one special episode animated in 2D animation. The live-action series No Activity went further and had its entire fourth season produced in 3DCG animation, a rarity among adult animated series at the time. Based on these developments, it seems likely that animation will weather the pandemic stronger than ever.

In terms of art styles, CGI animation has undergone various modifications and innovations, similar to its 2D predecessor. During the late 2010s and the 2020s, an increasing number of 3D animated works have explored more stylized processes by blending CGI models with 2D effects and textures, thus emulating traditional hand-drawn animation styles found in media such as paintings, comic books, and 2D anime, and aiming to achieve a closer proximity to Concept Art. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is usually considered to be a Trope Codifier for theatrical films, using such blending techinques through the entirety of its length to evoke the style of superhero comic books.

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    Series/Films associated with this era (Incomplete list): 

    Real-life people associated/directly involved with this era: 

Tropes associated with this era include:

  • Cerebus Syndrome: Cartoons made during this era (the 2010s in particular) tend to be more serious than those in previous eras, with deeper content and even overarching plots. Justified, since many creators during the decade grew up on anime, which had these to begin with.
  • Celebrity Voice Actor: It's hard to find a mainstream animated film in this age without a well known on-screen actor. Even in some dubs of anime films and other independent features such as those made by Studio Ghibli and Cartoon Saloon you'll likely to find one in it.
  • Cross-Dressing Voices is increasingly averted, with preteen male characters in major properties like Finding Nemo voiced by actual boys and series like Avatar: The Last Airbender, Adventure Time, and Chowder explicitly aging the characters in real time to accommodate deepening voices. However, this practice is still common in several American cartoons and in Anime.
  • Dance Party Ending: A favorite ending to lot of animated movies (Shrek is a big example... and is probably the Trope Codifier) end with everyone dancing to old music kids have never heard before.
  • Direct to Video: Had to release those Disney and The Land Before Time sequels somehow. Although, while it may still exist, this trope has become less relevant since the mid 2010s.
  • DreamWorks Face: Phenomenon that changed how animated films are marketed. Characters who never sport a Fascinating Eyebrow in the movie will do so on movie posters to make the movie seem more edgy and comedic.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: An ubiquitous trope seen in pretty much any animated film, at least those made by a major studio. The sidekicks provide comedy and marketing opportunities.
  • Painted CGI: While the blending of 3D and 2D animation had happened in small doses ever since the 1990s, the late 2010s and The New '20s saw an increasing number of animated films that blended CGI models with 2D effects in order to evoke a traditionally animated style, such as Cel Shading, stylized textures replicating sketches, watercolors, brush strokes, superimposed hand-drawn outlines and colors, and a lower frameratenote . This stands in contrast to the more photorealistic art style of 3D animation in the 2000s and 2010s.
  • Parental Bonus / Demographically Inappropriate Humor: Cartoons from the late 2000s/early 2010s were really pushing the envelope of what can be shown on children's television. Even some preschool shows are getting a bit edgier.
  • Prime Time Cartoon: This first became a notable programming block during this period. Inspired by the success of The Simpsons, Fox began airing a whole block of adult-oriented Animated Sitcoms in the evenings starting in the 2000's. Along the same lines, Cartoon Network launched [adult swim], their evening adult cartoon block, in 2001.
  • Serkis Folk: The line between live-action and animation has become increasingly blurred. Computer-generated characters appear in movies of all genres.
  • Shifted to CGI: In the early 21st century, animated films in North America gradually phased out 2D cel animation in favor of CGI. Similarly, the film industry would switch over to CGI as its main source of visual effects around this time, superseding models, traditional matte paintings, and puppets.
  • Shipping: The 2010s have been known for several shows gaining "fandoms" that devote themselves to romantically pairing characters, whether the show they're in is romantic or not. This has led to accusations from casual viewers towards the creators of the show for exploiting this through debunking or ship teasing because the shipping fandom only intends to watch their work for "evidence" and nothing else. To say this criticism is controversial is an understatement.
  • Sidekick Creature Nuisance: There is a character like this in many movies from a major studio. He is usually the sidekick.
  • Tamer and Chaster: Like other visual media in the era, cartoons of The New '10s tend to be more conscientous about avoiding the Male Gaze and Ms. Fanservice characters. In extreme cases, major characters have been Adapted Out of reboots of legacy shows (i.e. Miss Bellum from The Powerpuff Girls (2016) and Hello Nurse from Animaniacs (2020)).
  • Thick-Line Animation: During the Turn of the Millennium, if a cartoon wasn't Animesque or an All-CGI Cartoon, it was this.
  • Thin-Line Animation: This style seems to have taken over for Thick-Line Animation as of The New '10s. Shows such as Gravity Falls and Steven Universe are arguably considered to demonstrate this art-style at its best.
  • Toilet Humour: Very popular in CG animated films throughout most of the 2000s, thanks to most American animation studios copying DreamWorks' style (or more specifically, copying Shrek). Became less and less prevalent around 2007/2008 as the Shrek style started to lose popularity and as the other animation studios (including DreamWorks) began to look at Pixar as the studio to emulate. It still pops up in films occasionally, however.

Alternative Title(s): The Millennium Age Of Animation