Friday, November 1, 2013

Slice of life cartoons and why I like them

This is my first blog post on animation.

During the 1980s the only cartoons you could watch Saturday Mornings Cartoons or reruns of classical theatrical cartoons from the Golden Age of Animation.  SMCs of course were notoriously of low-quality and were quite bland to boot.  Theatrical cartoons from the Golden Age were of course of much higher quality but they went out of production in the 1960s most of the men who worked on them were either old, retired, or dead by that point.  The situation began to improve in the late 1980s with the introduction of new cartoons like The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Disney Afternoon cartoons like Gummi Bears, Ducktales, and Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers.  Of course the real breakthrough in cartoons didn't come until early 1990's when the first Nicktoons premiered, Doug, Rugrats, and of course Ren and Stimpy.  We all know that R&S started the gross-out cartoon genre, and Rugrats became a franchise of its own years later.  Doug by comparison, seems rather forgotten compared to the other two Nicktoons that premiered in 1991.  It was not edgy like Ren and Stimpy or at times gross like the Rugrats and the series itself seemed tame compared to the other two as well.  Doug on the other hand was maybe more innovative in its own right.  It may have very well started the slice of life cartoon genre.

While cartoons dealt with everyday situations since the Golden Age, OTOH the situations in the Golden Age cartoons were more wackier and were less realistic.  Slice-of-life cartoons of the 1990s were more realistic and seemed more down-to-earth storytelling wise.  They were usually pleasant to watch and the characters were usually people you can relate to.  They also tend to have more likable characters than some comedy shows.  A slice of life cartoon may or may not have much of a plot which combined with the lack of conflict at times could make people think the cartoons are boring.  Which is why slice of life cartoons don't' seem to have as large a fanbase as cartoons that are reliant on comedy and slapstick but they usually have significant and loyal fanbase.  I certainly enjoyed slice of life cartoons like Doug, Beavis and Butthead, Hey Arnold, and As Told by Ginger and a few others.  Many slice-of-life cartoons of served as a form of escapism and I think they often complimented comedy cartoons. There were stark differences between the two which led to more variety in the animation genre which I wish there was more of lately.

Nowadays slice of life cartoons are mostly under the radar.  I think the reason why genre mostly died out is due to the rise of cartoons like Spongebob and Fairly Oddparents and to a lesser extent, Family Guy which rely on more wacky situations which were enjoyed by young and old audiences.  Studios seem to have caught on the success of these aforementioned cartoons and began phasing out many of their slice of life cartoons.  The economy of the 2000s didn't help either.  Studios didn't want to take chances anymore so they decided to play it safe.  Most slice of life cartoons today are relegated to PBS because many of them are Educational TV.  Some comedy cartoons today do dabble in the slice of life genre but usually not for long. 

Lately, I've been shying away from comedy and slapstick cartoons.  The problem I have with comedy cartoons today is that the comedy often goes way overboard, this means that character development usually takes a back seat so the cartoons can be wacky and outlandish at times.  I also feel the market is over-saturated with comedy cartoons.  Many comedy cartoon usually have less likable characters than many slice of life cartoons which could make them less enjoyable.  While likable characters certainly do exist in comedy shows, the less likeable ones often get the spotlight which I'm not too crazy about.  Many of the long running comedy shows have main characters declining in likability such as Spongebob and Peter Griffin.  This doesn't mean I don't like comedy shows, some which are well written like Simpsons (Seasons 1-8) and Futurama that I enjoy a lot.

I would like it if the slice of life cartoons made a comeback.  It was good that they had variety in the animation genre.  Slice of life cartoons are a form of escapism just as much as comedy cartoons can be.  While they may not have as much conflict as many comedy and slapstick cartoons, this didn't mean that they weren't enjoyable.  There were certainly people who enjoyed them besides myself.  They popularity of the cartoons weren't phenomenal but this didn't mean that people did not like them.  I don't think they deserved to be branded as boring and unentertaining because they could have funny and interesting moments.  Everybody has different tastes when it comes to cartoons, some people like comedy cartoons, others like slice of life cartoons like myself.

Well that was a good post.  See ya soon.