• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.

Is there no market for "mature" american cartoons?

Status
Not open for further replies.

KimiNewt

Scored 3/100 on an Exam
May 24, 2006
2,581
0
0
Israel
I love animation, both American and Japanese. I love a lot of anime, and I loved animated shows like Avatar and Spectacular Spider-man.

I feel like most of modern anime is shit, but that there has been a recent deluge of good american cartoons.

Unfortunately, most american cartoons suffer (sometimes more, sometimes less) from having to pander to a very young audience and so are limited in scope or hurt by it. Even Avatar/Korra had to avoid some themes and have a stupid comic-relief character.

Is there a very good reason why there can't be more american cartoons (comedy not withstanding) that are directed at a more adult audience (or at least not at "kids")? Have there been any recent attempts or promises?

I know there's some stuff like the DC Universe (which I personally don't like), but those are often one-time things rather than actual shows.
 

Elysium-777

Member
Jul 17, 2014
1,020
0
0
I always assumed that most networks want to sell merchandise alongside any animated shows they have. A mature animated show is a pretty hard sell, if not many children will be watching, therefore not buying any toys.
 

studyguy

Member
Jun 10, 2013
20,608
0
0
Most mature animation I see in American media is either strictly super hero (DC/Marvel) or big budget films. Almost nothing in between. Avatar is literally the only recent example that comes to mind.

At the very least with anime each season there are some 30 shows that will hit various demographics. I feel like the bigger issue in American media is they refuse to let animated shows run unless they intend to have them run for YEARS. Meanwhile much of anime is regulated to one or two cour. I suppose that goes with the market though as Elysium pointed out. No sense in running something 12 episodes if it won't sell merch.
 

NEO0MJ

Member
Aug 8, 2010
26,423
0
0
I feel we've had this thread before recently...

Anyways it is sad. If it's not a comedy it will have to air on a the kids slot which restricts what they can do. I think the only mature non-comedy cartoon was Spawn and that was 20 years ago. I guess you can also count Venture bros and Archer to some degree.
 

Poodlestrike

Banned
May 28, 2014
30,358
1
0
Western animation is still living in the Animation Age Ghetto. There just isn't (or, at least, the general belief is that) there isn't a market for adult-oriented cartoons that aren't comedies.

Plus, it's almost always cheaper to just do live action with varying levels of special effects. Good animation is costly as fuck. As such, they need to make up the cost with merchandise, which means targeting kids (since, again, the belief is that adults won't buy that stuff).
 

Sanjuro

Member
Nov 19, 2004
98,966
0
1,435
Sure there is!



...well, shit. Errr. Mature cartoons are still going to revolve around a sitcom presence. I think the only way niche programing is going to get into the masses is via Netflix or other means.
 

studyguy

Member
Jun 10, 2013
20,608
0
0
Sure there is!

...well, shit. Errr. Mature cartoons are still going to revolve around a sitcom presence. I think the only way niche programing is going to get into the masses is via Netflix or other means.
Both of those are 10 years old this year lol
Archer, Family Guy, Simpsons, American Dad, Futurama... All comedy. It never occurred to me that the ones that aim at adults are all strictly comedy. Odd. Wonder why those get a pass.
 

DarkKyo

Member
Apr 4, 2007
15,588
2
0
Venture Bros is pretty great for an example of a good, mature(most of the time) cartoon. The plot gets a little convoluted somewhere along the line(though the recent special seems like their attempt to clean up some of it or at least start fresh), but the humor is decently mature and pretty consistent throughout the series. I almost want to say its just as based on plot and high brow satire of its genre as it is on its humor.
 
Jun 1, 2011
22,356
0
0
Because they make them live action instead. In Japan an adaptation of a highly praised manga like Death Note becomes an anime as often as live action. In America if you are making an adaptation of something like Y the Last Man or The walking Dead, with heavy doses of drama, it isn't going to be animated because it is perceived that actors are better suited for that, and the comic was designed to replace those drawings with real people and the looks they had on paper are not necessarily how the character have to look.
Animation + Live action is not uncommon in Japan for adult manga
+

vs just live action being the norm when adapting adult drama in America. "Drama" being the keyword here.
 

Kai Dracon

Writing a dinosaur space opera symphony
Jun 7, 2004
19,552
1
0
45
Space is the Place
American animation creators lately have been using the existing cartoon format to sneak what are fairly mature shows under the radar; Steven Universe is probably the flagship currently.

But in general the issue is that there is a chicken and egg problem getting the market for animated drama going in the US. I believe it's been called the cartoon sitcom ghetto: the idea that animation is strictly for jokes and thus adults will only watch stuff like The Simpsons and Family Guy.

The entire ecosystem seems pretty different between Japan and the US as well. Japanese animation hooks off the robust comic culture of Japan, where comics are read by all ages and demographics, and enjoy medium maturity. You can find comics for any subject matter aimed at people of any age or background. Even then, I get the impression anime is not as mainstream in Japan as comics are. Animation is still geekier, more aimed at otaku most of the time. Because it's expensive to adapt comics to anime, and not every great drama manga can get an anime version for television.
 

Sou Da

Member
Jul 26, 2014
18,072
0
0
Nope, already have a culture that dismisses cartoons as a whole.

That and it's extremely expensive.
 

big ander

Member
Dec 16, 2008
19,824
0
0
twitter.com
I just made a thread for "World of Tomorrow", the new short from independent animator Don Hertzfeldt. The guy behind one of the first ever viral videos "Rejected", that crazy Simpsons couch gag from last year, and the heartbreaking and hilarious It's Such a Beautiful Day.

Hertzfeldt's work may be very funny, but it is not comparable to animated sitcoms. He ponders the pain of life and memories, the inevitability of death, and the smallness of humanity.
 

studyguy

Member
Jun 10, 2013
20,608
0
0
I just made a thread for "World of Tomorrow", the new short from independent animator Don Hertzfeldt. The guy behind one of the first ever viral videos "Rejected", that crazy Simpsons couch gag from last year, and the heartbreaking and hilarious It's Such a Beautiful Day.

Hertzfeldt's work may be very funny, but it is not comparable to animated sitcoms. He ponders the pain of life and memories, the inevitability of death, and the smallness of humanity.
That seems interesting as hell
 

Sub Boss

Member
Mar 6, 2013
20,397
22
485
Both of those are 10 years old this year lol
Archer, Family Guy, Simpsons, American Dad, Futurama... All comedy. It never occurred to me that the ones that aim at adults are all strictly comedy. Odd. Wonder why those get a pass.
yes its either comedy or for young kids, i guess its easier to do, and really clever, an animated comedy show than an action, dramatic one, after the sucess of The Simpsons, wich appealed to all ages, that type of show was seen as a "mature" cartoon, then came South Park with its crude, simplistic artstyle, and defined what was for teen/adults, and what was for kids.
 

JoeyJungle

Banned
Aug 24, 2011
4,422
0
0
There's tons of cartoon comedies aimed at adults. Bob's Burgers, Archer, The Simpsons, The Awesomes, Futurama, etc. I can't think of any mature cartoon dramas though.
 
Nov 30, 2010
5,468
0
610
Chicago
There's a market for it on TV if it involves a heavy dose of comedy (Archer, for example).

As a film medium, no way. Those movies constantly tank.

Actually, I can't think of a single darker, adult American movie that was a real box office success.
 

FelixOrion

Poet Centuriate
Sep 16, 2011
16,274
0
0
127.0.0.1
Both of those are 10 years old this year lol
Archer, Family Guy, Simpsons, American Dad, Futurama... All comedy. It never occurred to me that the ones that aim at adults are all strictly comedy. Odd. Wonder why those get a pass.
Probably because a lot of those comedies are also fairly vulgar/absurd/crass, which still sorta give it this feeling of 'animation is immature/juvenile', even the themes are adult in nature



We should be getting a new season this year.
Also a comedy. Again, the issue is that domestic animation in the west is either family friendly stuff that could be shown/aimed at kids, or adult comedies (just OP kinda glosses over/ignores the issue of the only adult animation popular in the West is comedy, and usually absurd, vulgar comedy at that).

Americans make real movies. Our mature cartoons are Like Winter Soldier and The Avengers.
It's pretty stupid to label only live-action stuff as 'real movies'. There are pros and cons to both kinds of movies. There's no reason to say that only the live-action thrillers can be 'real movies' or have to or should take the place of animation.
 

isny

napkin dispenser
Oct 23, 2009
5,934
0
0
There's a market for it on TV if it involves a heavy dose of comedy (Archer, for example).

As a film medium, no way. Those movies constantly tank.

Actually, I can't think of a single darker, adult American movie that was a real box office success.
Again, Aqua Teen did amazingly well.

Budget: $750,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $3,005,175 (USA) (13 April 2007)
Gross: $5,518,918 (USA) (8 June 2007)

But if we're talking non comedic, yeah no ideas either.
 
Nov 30, 2010
5,468
0
610
Chicago
Again, Aqua Teen did amazingly well.

Budget: $750,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $3,005,175 (USA) (13 April 2007)
Gross: $5,518,918 (USA) (8 June 2007)
Yes, it did. I suppose I should have been more specific and noted primarily comedy focused movies don't count in that statement.
 

Lijik

Member
Sep 16, 2008
17,869
1
0
I imagine the more down to earth, dramatic an animated pitch gets the more a network is gonna go "Why not make it live action?" if they dont pass on it outright.
I mean thats assuming that kind of stuff gets pitched at all, i dont really know. Gaffers in/close to the industry might have an idea.
 
Dec 9, 2010
6,345
0
0



Basically if you want an animated show with mature themes, that isn't comedy, it has to have Space Marines of some sort so they can sell some toys
 
Sep 10, 2013
33,023
0
0
Well, unless they are comedies like Metalocolypse, Venture Bros or Boondocks it doesn't really seem so.

People tried before with stuff like Aeon Flux. There are some kids shows, mainly Batman TAS and Sym-Bionic Titan (RIP) come to mind, that have some surprisingly "mature" episodes, and writers have ALWAYS been sneaking mature jokes into kids shows, like the "Finger Prince/Finger Prints" thing in Animaniacs.
 

Black-Wind

Member
May 17, 2008
10,847
0
0
exavierford.weebly.com
I remember Genny talking about this and I agree, you can't blame the audience. It's not as simple as "Americans think cartoons are for kids", it's more that "Americans only see animations that are geared towards kids" and they assume that's what it's for.

Just look at CN! SBT was amazing, had high ratings and everyone loved it ... and it was geared towards teens and 20+ adults. But apparently half way through the making of it CN decided they wanted it to be like Generator Rex (show geared towards lil boys that they can pimp out toys from) but Genny wasn't having that. CN decided to make it fail because it wasn't appealing to the demo they wanted (Same for YJ and GL. GL couldn't get toys in stores because of that shit movie and CN doesn't know how to make a profit off of anything other than lil boys toys so it's huge female and adult draw was working against it).

When companies start putting out legit things geared towards adults then THAT will be when more people accept that it's not "kid stuff".
 

big ander

Member
Dec 16, 2008
19,824
0
0
twitter.com
my stab at the reason American animation defaults to comedy is simply that that's what it's always been. literally, back to Gertie the Dinosaur and through the Fleischers and Disney and Merrie Melodies, animation has had comic and musical elements. Given comedy relies on elasticity and surprise, this makes sense. Since animation has always been mainly comedy-based even when aimed at adults, it continues to be that way. it's self-perpetuating.

There aren't many exceptions. I'll ring the bell for Hertzfeldt once more, but in the very present few come to mind. Recent past, though: Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life are not remotely comic, though they're rotoscoped. Ralph Bakshi's work is purportedly very adult and not always comic, haven't seen any yet however. Don Bluth's movies play for young audiences but they're aimed squarely at adults too. Martin Rosen's films, Watership Down and The Plague Dogs, were made in the UK but he himself is American. Israeli director Ari Folman's became an international arthouse favorite between Waltz with Bashir and The Congress. Sylvain Chomet's films The Illusionist and The Triplets of Belleville again have comic elements but not in a sitcom vulgar way and are aimed at adults.
All I can think of at the moment.
 
May 21, 2013
6,244
0
0
I feel like, beyond tastes being different, US shows have the budget to realise things with oractical effects and cg tat would otherwise be deemed impossible in anything but animation in countries with far smaller telivision budgets.
 

firehawk12

Subete no aware
Sep 10, 2007
61,796
0
1,040
Toronto/Guelph
Archer or Bob's Burgers are the closest that you'll get on TV. South Park if you count that too. Comedies seem like the last place for American animation anyway.
 

Jawmuncher

Member
Sep 2, 2010
61,693
13
790
Isla Nublar
I do find it funny that anything that is mature has to be comedic in america. This thread alone already shows it. It's a shame that the masses will never see animation as nothing more than kiddy or comedic.
 

border

Member
Jun 7, 2004
31,951
16
1,660
"Comedies don't count!"
"Why not?"
"Because!"

If you arbitrarily just disregard the most popular genres, the selection of anime would probably seem pretty thin too.
 
Sep 10, 2013
33,023
0
0
"Comedies don't count!"
"Why not?"
"Because!"

If you arbitrarily just disregard the most popular genres, the selection of anime would probably seem pretty thin too.
But there is pretty much ONLY comedies on TV.

Just look at the post above you.
 

NEO0MJ

Member
Aug 8, 2010
26,423
0
0
All those fall under the comedy category.

"Comedies don't count!"
"Why not?"
"Because!"

If you arbitrarily just disregard the most popular genres, the selection of anime would probably seem pretty thin too.
But is there anything mature that isn't a comedy? With anime you can easily find that, cartoons not so much. I mean you have mature thrillers, action, slice of life, space opera, etc animes.
 

Bixlow

Neo Member
Jun 16, 2014
28
0
190
Archer and Frisky Dingo are the classic examples of adult western cartoons. They don't pander to a younger audience in fact they completely ignore the fact that younger people might even be watching it.
 

firehawk12

Subete no aware
Sep 10, 2007
61,796
0
1,040
Toronto/Guelph
But there is pretty much ONLY comedies on TV.

Just look at the post above you.
The thing is, you probably can't sell a serious cartoon to people.

There's no reason why Preacher can't work as an animated series, but people seem intent on making a live action version of it because that's just what people want to watch in America.
 

Konka

Banned
Sep 13, 2007
14,266
0
0
All those fall under the comedy category.



But is there anything mature that isn't a comedy? With anime you can easily find that, cartoons not so much. I mean you have mature thrillers, action, slice of life, space opera, etc animes.
Because it works best for comedy? People in the US would rather watch a show like Game of Thrones with live actors than animation, it's just a national preference. If you can afford to make stuff like GoT look like it does, you don't need to animate it.
 

firehawk12

Subete no aware
Sep 10, 2007
61,796
0
1,040
Toronto/Guelph
Because it works best for comedy? People in the US would rather watch a show like Game of Thrones with live actors than animation, it's just a national preference. If you can afford to make stuff like GoT look like it does, you don't need to animate it.
Except, well, GoT looks really cheap at times. But that's not to say that an American animation company would do any better.
 

border

Member
Jun 7, 2004
31,951
16
1,660
But there is pretty much ONLY comedies on TV.

Just look at the post above you.
The absurdist humor of a lot of those shows really only works as a cartoon.

The American television industry actually has the production values to do good drama in live action. Nobody with a great idea for a drama is going to try it as animated. If The Walking Dead were to be made in Japan however they would have to do it as an anime since the budgets for live action TV are garbage over there (and to be fair AMC's TWD has a lot of crummy penny-pinching going on behind the scenes).
 
Status
Not open for further replies.