Do sincere and serious animated shows still exist?

I got into a conversation with my supervisor yesterday about wanting to get into animation and taking fine arts during my brief stint in college 20 years ago and how the landscape of animation has changed a lot since those days. How back in the 80s and 90s, there was a mix of good and bad animation, but how some cartoons existed that were written for all ages, but could still appeal to adults because they were written to be serious and sincere. I explained that after the Anime wave hit and cartoons transitioned to CG for most of their content, every animated series either became a comedy or had been dumbed down for little kids. Stuff that used to be for grade school kids, teens, young adults and straight up adults are now revisioned for 3 or 4 year olds.

And it leads me to wonder… do any sincere animated shows even exist anymore that are serious and earnest in their attempt to simply tell a story? I know DC puts out animated films all the time, but are there any actual shows left?

And as far as dumbing down stuff for 3-4 year olds (and I know this is a comic and not an animated series), here is an example of something…

This is The Rocketeer, by the late Dave Stevens, created in 1982. A decade later, Disney got the rights and made a rather entertaining film out of it, all things considering.



This, apparently, is The Rocketeer NOW, which I just discovered existed this week.

1 Like

Well, there was Bojack Horseman, but it’s actually ending this month.

I mean, it’s very much still a comedy, but it definitely has dark and serious moments in it.

Can’t really think of anything else that’s on TV. There’s probably some on YouTube, but I’m not really in the mood to try and remember what’s there.

There’s some extremely compelling children’s content out there recently – Over the Garden Wall, Adventure Time, and Stephen Universe were rated extremely highly by adult reviews.

Going back a bit further, in the mid-2000s I remember things being much worse. Cartoon Network was starting to get on its “CN Real” bullshit and killed Toonami, Nick was trying to emulate the exploding popularity of Disney Channel with a ton more live action stuff too, forcing Spongebob to its main animated focus to the detriment of every other cartoon. Further viewing:

Promising shows were outright cancelled to give Spongebob more room, even Fairly Oddparents which it felt like they shoved down throats just as much couldn’t keep up and got cancelled “early,” etc.

The lone hope during these dark times was, of course, the (almost entirely uncontested) best western animated show of the 2000s…

Before this, the last great vestige of mature animation on kids’ TV, as I remember it, was Justice League/Unlimited, and that was the grand finale of the DCAU.

As a counterpoint to “everything was better in the 80s and 90s,” at the very least few shows are created after their toyline these days. The commercials have moved out of the shows themselves to… dominate 40% of childrens’ viewing time instead. :grimacing:

Also Tartakovsky needs to get off his Hotel Dracula shit and do more stuff like Symbionic Titan.

I guess Primal is good, but splitting the season guarantees I won’t watch it until the whole thing is out.

1 Like

HEH??!

1 Like

From this decade American animated shows I would recommend for anyone:

Adventure Time specifically the episode “Remember Me”

Steven Universe specifically “Rose’s Scabbard,” and “Together Alone”

Over the Garden Wall.

Symbionic Titan

Legend of Korra with an asterisk. The ideas, world building, politics, and characters are mature but it does not have Aaron Ehaz as head writer and that shows.

The Dragon Prince starts decent enough. Season 3 is the best thing on Netflix.

Kipo and the Age of wonder beasts was fun. Like a cross between Gurren lagann and teen titans 2003.

Young Justice

Gravity Falls is a comedy, but it’s good enough that Disney has been trying to remake it ever since. Looking at Ducktales, Star vs the Forces of Evil, and Owl House.

Star Wars Rebels I’ve liked what I’ve seen more then any of the movies, but I’m not a starwars fan.

RWBY has my respect for the ambition to create a serialized action web cartoon in 2013 and it has constantly improved each season, but the novelty has worn off

Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated. Probably the darkest show on this list, and also the silliest.

Thundercats 2011 is pretty cool too

Also, Transformers Prime is very well regarded among Transformers fans.

1 Like

Nothing Disney touches survives.

1 Like

To be honest it just easier to watch good anime.

Oh man Scooby-Doo MI and Young Justice are GOATs in their franchises.

But there is no good anime anymore

There was a time not long ago. But it’s back. My Hero Academia restored faith in anime for me then I went on to discover Fire Force and Dr. Stone. Vinland Saga is incredible too based on one of my fav manga of all time. There is other things I am forgetting, but honestly, it’s back baby. I was down on it for a couple years then MHA happened.

Most seasons at least have a couple of watchable to good ones.

Keep your hands off Eizouken! has been nice.

I do got to admit though that the most hype anime are often sequels.

MHA didn’t grab me but I’m willing to give it another shot at some point. Seemed really generic shonen especially after I had just finished HxH.

Do you remember how many episodes you tried? I’m just curious lol Star Blazers and Garo Vanishing Line are also good modern anime.

Between 5 and 10, it was a while ago.

On the other hand One Punch grabbed me from the get-go. Different kind of show and I honestly think it should have wrapped itself up in one season (unless they depower Saitama, defeating the point of the whole show…)

Show me quality like Death Note, like Gurren Lagann, like FMA Brotherhood, like GITS SAC. 2000s shits all over the 2010s for anime and you’ll be hard-pressed to convince me otherwise. With western animation the comparison between the two decades is much closer.

HxH?!

Well here’s some good stuff

Kingdom (Takes till episode 18 to get good but it is great.) after this i’ve learned to try and give shows a chance to get past the first plot point.
Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu
Overlord
Dr. Stone
Hero Academia
Vinland Saga
Diamond No Ace
Kimetsu no Yaiba
Shield Hero
Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen
Mob Psycho 100
Shokugeki No Souma
Yowamushi Pedal

Well if you are comparing to Hunter X Hunter then yeah most anime are going to be disappointing.

I’ve heard thi so many times and it’s just exhausting. The good children’s cartoons now are better then they have ever been, more mature, and more sophisticated.

The Rocketeer is Disney repackaging something you enjoyed for your children so you will buy it for them. They tried the same thing with Lion Guard on Disney Jr, there are both Mickey Mouse Disney Jr Show and a general audiences series of shorts.

As far as reboots are concerned you’re just as likely to come across people getting eaten alive in scooby doo, or Master Shredder being stabbed through the chest in TMNT.

That said I struggle with the same feelings about anime now. I’ve tried getting into a lot of anime that just don’t keep me coming back for more. Part of it is that more anime crap is available now, and that makes it harder to find good stuff. I despise anime about anime and otaku culture now, and that’s all over the place. I almost always get distracted from anime I like in the middle of the season, and as soon as an anime season is over all the old stuff gets burried.

That art is fantastic. Definitely going to find some collected Rocketeer works from Dave Stevens.

I do got to admit it is harder to find good stuff. Sheer numbers make it hard if you are giving series some episodes.

1 Like