From its very foundation, animation has been a form of art with a unique kind of appeal. Renaissance art is an acquired taste. Everything from Impressionism to modern art appeal to limited groups of people. But animation seems to have something for everyone. Well, almost everyone. But its broad-based appeal is one of the reasons that animation will never die as a commercial product.
It is interesting to note that P.L. Travers, the creative mind behind the original Mary Poppins novels, despised animation. She hated it so much that she refused to give Walt Disney permission to turn any of her subsequent books into films after he interjected animation into the first film.
The Travers-Disney dispute notwithstanding, animation has grown from a fledgling industry in the 1920s to a multi-billion-dollar industry today. It is not going away any time soon. It will continue as a viable commercial product for the foreseeable future, and here are just four reasons explaining why:
1. Complete Story Freedom
There is something about the animation concept that allows complete story freedom. It is a lot like ventriloquists and dummies. Ventriloquists can get away with saying things (via their dummies) they could never say otherwise. The same holds true in animation.
Some of the material covered in anime’s Demon Slayer would be too over-the-top for a mainstream live-action film. Likewise, some material built into TV’s The Simpsons is too much live action. With animation, we expect things to go over the top. We expect creators to push the envelope. And because we are looking at animated characters rather than live actors, there really are no limits.
2. Animation Invites Fantasy
On a similar note, live-action films are somewhat limited in the fantasy aspect because there are lots of things you cannot physically do with human actors. Animated characters have no such limits. They can be anything you want them to be. They can do anything you want them to do.
3. Animation Has Its Own Culture
Next up, animation has its own culture. Sure, there are a small number of live action film franchises and TV series that have developed their own cultural following, but they are the exception to the rule. Not so in the animation world.
Take anime, for example. It is a cultural movement unto itself. And it is not just limited to streaming series and films. Everything from Umai anime T-shirts and sweatshirts to mobile apps that feed you daily anime and manga series, everything is on the table.
Of course, Disney is the undisputed ruler of Western animation. They have created an entire culture around their characters and stories. Adults love the culture as much as their kids, perhaps even more.
4. Animation Encourages Nostalgia
Perhaps the biggest strength animation brings to the table is its ability to encourage nostalgia. Let’s face it, all of us were introduced animation as children. That is because children are more likely to sit and watch animated stories than live-action TV shows. Because we all grew up watching animation, continuing to watch it as an adult invites the nostalgia of youth.
The nostalgia factor is intriguing because people do not actually have to experience the animation of their youth to feel it. Even something brand-new will do the trick if it reminds a person of their younger days.
There are still those people who despise animation every bit as much as P.L. Travers did. But they are in the minority. The vast majority of us at least enjoy animation. Some of us are gaga over it. That is why it will never die.