Where Are All The Cartoons For Teens?

by Tito W. James

In 2018 I asked, “Where Are All The Cartoons For Adults” and miraculously, a tidal-wave of mature animated content came forth that only seems to continue growing. As a fan of adult cartoons, I’m overjoyed; but as expressed by Rad Sechrist, (Kipo) we need more content for teens.

Just to recap, we have several new adult animated series that break the “rude-sitcom” mold. Standouts include: Primal, Love Death and Robots, Castlevania, Midnight Gospel, and much more to come this year.

PG-13 cartoons still have room for growth so here are some suggestions of what I would like to see.

Shows Based On Comics

I believe that shows based on comics will have a stronger appeal for teens. Considering that PG-13 is the most sought after target market in feature films, and that comic book movies are dominating Hollywood, making a PG-13 animated series based on a comic property makes perfect sense.

This has worked in the past with shows like Young Justice, Teen Titans, and the Spectacular Spider-Man. Because pop culture is saturated with superheroes, I’d rather see an animated series based on an Indie comic. Scott Pilgrim is ripe for an animated adaptation, with appealing characters, bombastic action, and themes of entering adulthood.

Do What Anime Has Already Done Well

I’ve expressed on multiple occasions that the key to animation’s future is cross-pollination. For decades, anime has explored ideas that can relate to young people. Just scrolling through the anime selection on Crunchyroll we have the genres of fantasy, scifi, horror, sports, cooking, survival game, martial arts, superhero, and romance. With a generation of new animation creators who grew up with anime, we are bound to see cross-pollination give rise to new epic stories. Just look at the AMV above to see what American cartoons are missing out on.

Tell Long-form Stories

It may seem obvious that to engage young people you must tell a good story. However, most Western cartoons opt for self-contained episodes rather than a long-form narrative with hard continuity and character development. The PG-13 rating will allow creators to explore more complex themes and tell more epic stories.

Hopes For The Future

While there are still areas that need to be improved, I see more opportunities than obstacles. With the Internet and affordable animation software, young people from across the globe are able to connect and create the content they want to see. I would strongly advocate for any aspiring creator to just make the material they want to see and not wait for the world to be ready. I envision an animated future that isn’t limited by one nationality, genre, animation technique, or age demographic. It’s a bright future and we can make it happen, one frame at a time.

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