We Ask: What’s Next For Mature Animation?

by Tito W. James

I’ve been chronicling the rise of mature animated storytelling in the West ever since I first started writing for Comicon.com. Each year I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the variety of mature animated shows and movies. However, mature animation hasn’t really entered popular discussion in the same way that anime and comic books have. What’s next for mature animation? Let’s recap what’s happened so far…

Streaming platforms (mostly Netflix) have proven to be the biggest game-changer for enabling mature animated stories to reach a casual audience. Unfettered by network restrictions and the need to sell toys; showrunners are allowed the creative freedom to push the envelope in terms of style and subject matter. Streaming platforms also provide a place for niche films to reach a wider audience.

With shows like Castlevania, Seis Manos, and Cannon Busters, the line between Western animation and Anime has blurred. Ultimately, we’re all looking for prestige animation that’s narratively sophisticated, and deals with complex adult themes.

Network television has also evolved with Genndy Tartakosky’s Primal. The show delivers a harrowing emotional journey proving that some stories are so epic that they can only be animated. Primal is also a great example of the unique talent of French animation.

Studio La Cachette animated Primal as well as the “Sucker Of Souls” episode of Love Death and Robots. I believe that French animation will become as popular as anime is right now. This belief is only strengthened by the superb material produced by Gobelins every year and the upcoming Arcane animated series by studio Fortiche Prod.

As you can see, mature animated content is growing incredibly fast, so what’s left to accomplish? Unfortunately, the discussion around animation hasn’t matured as much as the medium itself.

There are endless YouTube Channels devoted to counting down the “Top Ten Darkest Moments In Kids Cartoons” or lambasting the latest “cash-grab reboot” of a beloved cartoon property.

Instead of people in their teens and 20s overanalyzing cartoons that are created for 6-11 year-olds, we should be celebrating the cartoons that are actually created for people in their teens and 20s. If we truly want better cartoons for adults, then we need to start acting like adults when we analyze cartoons.

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