Animation A Lost Art?

Recently I have been watching a numerous number of Disney films. Mainly because my younger brother is on summer vacation, and he’s not allowed to play any video games at the moment as a punishment. As we were browsing Netflix I encouraged him to watch films I had grown up as child watching in my childhood. After a couple viewings it suddenly dawned upon me that in my homeland traditional hand drawn animation wasn’t as prevalent as before. The movies I had grown up watching, and idolizing no longer existed for my little brother who was born after the turn of the century. I am most probably late to the party because I don’t follow Disney as closely as others do since most of my focus when it comes to animation is aimed toward Japan, and in that country 3D hasn’t exactly taken over yet. I am not saying 3D animation is bad in any form I have enjoyed many films that have utilized 3D such as Toy Story, and Wall-E. I believe there is a place for 3D, and the fact in my opinion that video games are a form of art(those are mostly made using 3D engines). Should be evidence enough that I have admiration for any form of art, and the valiant artists who work on them. Especially since I am someone who lacks in such capability.

As I finished watching some of Disney’s older films I realized that in the United States we truly have lost something. There is something very touching about 2D animation that I don’t know how to describe. I would usually say it’s just nostalgia, and often in cases like these it is. Often the old games, and novels I liked are more memorable than they actually were, and I later realize that stuff material today is far superior This often happens in my case when it comes to video games. Why I think this time is different is because my little brother’s reaction to these films. He absolutely enjoyed them, and he wished for more. He didn’t necessarily prefer them over the many films he has seen in the movie theaters, but he began enamored with them because he truly hasn’t seen films like these in his short life so far. He loved the music, the characters, story, and most importantly the animation. You may ask won’t a kid like everything? Not necessarily, and what surprised me is that I still liked these films as much as I did as young child myself. That doesn’t always happen. We are often told as adults that we have to outgrow such pleasures, and that if we don’t we never really “matured” which in my opinion is complete bullocks.

What this whole experience has made me realize is as someone who is still spoiled by modern 2D animation from Japan. I took for granted the marvelous films that I enjoyed once as a child that were produced by Disney. I had seen CGI (Computer-generated Imagery) as merely the next step, and since I loved movies like Toy Story so much I didn’t think much of it, and I had anime to transition to anyways so I didn’t think much of it. Yet it was after watching movies with my brother I searched for modern Disney 2D films, and didn’t find much. That is when I realized that the industry had moved on. What sadden me was that many of the programs my brother enjoys today is of lower quality. Not only in animation, but a lot of shows he watches now are just a bunch of actors on a television set. Not saying acting isn’t a form of art, but it’s a shame that 2D animators have been displaced to such a degree. Granted many of the cartoons my sister grew up with were animated in 2D, and I know it hasn’t absolutely died yet in America. Now I can understand some of the paranoia many have in the Japanese animation industry when it comes to CGI, and why many fans absolutely hate it. I think that’s why there is still a resistance within the anime community. Unlike Disney who had positive feedback, and an audience who was willing to transition in the anime fandom CGI is seen as inferior, and not something to be encouraged. I think as time passes the barrier will weaken, and people will become more open to the idea of CGI, but at the moment I do see a lack of respect for 3D animators. In part stems from the fear of what occurred to Disney will happen to the Japanese industry. I am still not sure this fear is unfounded or not, but what I do know about the niche of anime fans is that they won’t let 2D die without a fight.

In conclusion what I am trying to convey is that it’s a shame that hand drawn animation isn’t as featured as much as it should be, but I hope that technology can improve to such a degree in which CGI can blend with the magic of the past, and create art that can truly touch the soul. I say that because when I look back the 3D movies I enjoyed because of the music, and the story. With hand drawn I truly enjoyed the purity of the art itself. There was something very elegant, and profound in it. It didn’t feel as robotic. Even though 2D animated is also not not as “perfect” as many who are nostalgic are lead to believe. I guess it all winds down to the fact that as a kid I drew a lot. I wanted to draw my favorite characters that I saw everyday on my television, and wanted to be a part of their story, and more importantly create my own. Drawing to me just felt so natural to do even though I have no talent for itt. It’s not dead in any means it’s still the basis of much of the artwork we love, and appreciate today. As I write this I guess I have realized I too am nostalgic for the movies of old, and the elegant artwork that touched my heart as a young boy.

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