View Full Version : Is any American animation serious?

08-15-2013, 08:14 AM
I can honestly say that I haven't seen any shows from America that are serious. They base their whole show on comedy. I mean some of it is actually funny, but I'm getting tired of it. In anime, there is a huge amount of serious shows. Even in things like Pokemon, they take their adventure seriously and don't waste every second of the show for comedy. But in lets say Teen Titans Go, there is no heroic acts. Just some comedy.

So have you seen any shows from America that are, for the most part, serious?

08-15-2013, 08:29 AM
You have avatar, also don't forget animated movies are still animation so you have things like WallE and Up that pack a nice message or so and while they are cute they do have a nice solid underlining message to them. Just try to look more outside of Cartoon Network and things.

It's really because only Kids watch those shows so they try to be funny. Adults will watch stupid crude humored shows on Adult Swim later on.

Even in Japan the accepted demographic to watching anime IS children so there are plenty of comedy/magical girl/action shows. It's just they happen to have a pretty big outcasted culture of otaku's so they can make pretty much whatever they want unlike here in america where it's just kids basically that watch it.

Sky Hedgehogian Maestro
08-15-2013, 08:42 AM
Quite so, actually. Expect most of it to at least retain a tinge of comedy, but there are serious shows. You just have to look for them, and expect no one to want them no matter how successful or loved. For example, Cartoon Network? Young Justice had solid ratings, as did Green Lantern, Ben 10 Alien Force, etc. etc... But because it wasn't Johnny T-... er... """""funny""""" they didn't want to market it.
Whether you mean "Serious slow" or "serious action packed" is more important. I haven't seen a single Western cartoon here that features those slower, more real and emotional moments as the bulk of the series. Young Justice combined some of it, however.

08-15-2013, 10:06 AM
Most of the stuff from the '80s [ie: Transformers, G.I. Joe, He-man, and more] was serious (even if it was a ploy for selling merchandise). The ideas and some plot devices may have be campy and cheesy, but the storylines were pretty serious. You still had the going into the '90s with Gargoyles, Swat Kats, and Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles. Even now with shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender, Legend of Korra, Ben 10, and Generation Rex there's plenty of seriousness around.

Movie Dave
08-15-2013, 03:28 PM
Alas, Here let me list: Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra, Young Justice, Tron: Uprising, Avengers: Earth's mightiest heroes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman: The Animated series. Don't let shows with jokes fool you into thinking that. There are plenty of very serious moments and themes in these shows. The reason why the witty jokes are existent is so they can appeal to a younger audience. Kids usually wont get all these serious themes in the shows, Kids are too impatient to wait between action sequences thus, they tend to add jokes to keep the kids interested. I mean Avatar has serious things that even most anime doesn't even cover(Murder being the biggest one). Legend of Korra has a real dark ending. I really suggest you look up these series and REALLY pay attention, there's a lot of seriousness going on in these.

08-15-2013, 07:18 PM
Define "serious". I mean do you mean where they don't make jokes while kicking butt at all? not many. None that lasted. but some stuff is serious.




08-15-2013, 09:16 PM
of course there's serious american animation.


08-29-2013, 06:57 PM
I'm still waiting for this movie. Do you consider this serious? After all people are dying.



Not that all anime is serious either.


it all depends.

09-19-2013, 07:36 AM
If you think a comedic show can't be serious then youre stupid.

11-28-2013, 05:37 PM
Hrrmm. Shows is a little tricky since most cartoons are aimed at children, but Disney's older animated works (Bambi, Fox and the Hound, Hunchback of Notre Dame) were very serious and tragic. (One of them even dark, Hunchback of Notre Dame while a bastardization or the original text is still a disturbing story. The scene with Frollo singing into the fire comes to mind.)

As for cartoons there is Legend of Korra, Generator Rex, Young Justice, and Thundercats are decent examples.

12-01-2013, 03:11 AM
Avatar the Last Airbender - One of the best cartoons that I've seen to date (even adding in the hundreds of anime)
Generator Rex - Pretty enjoyable and the ending was satisfactory.

There's more but I don't really watch all that much. Legend of Korra is basically a fail so just ignore it.

12-14-2013, 09:47 PM
Serious american animated shows come around very little. Justice League comes to mind for me. There are others but I can't think of any.

12-15-2013, 01:30 AM
Anyone ever hear of the movie Heavy Metal? It's definitely not a comedy, but entertaining. Some of the stories are more "serious" than others.

12-15-2013, 09:37 AM
Heavy Metal 2000 was a bit more serious than the original though.

12-16-2013, 10:26 PM
They aren't too common, but there are some examples of shows that aren't comedic AND aren't geared towards minors.

There is Spawn the Animated series which is going for graphic and violent. There is also Aeon flux, which is aiming for avant guard. Huh, looks like hulu has the third season of it (the first two were shorter and often didn't have any speaking, season three appears be rather talky.)

The Ultramarines movie also comes to mind. This AMV features clips from the movie and captures how Games Workshop feels about Space Marines pretty well I think.

And these days there are low budget (or student made) animated movies out there.

But generally speaking in the US the budgets are high enough, the tech is developed enough, and the actors good enough that if something is going to be made for an adult audience it's worth doing live action (or James Cameron's Avatar style or something). For example in Japan a successful Manga might well turn into an anime, but in the us a graphic novel that achieves success like Sin City or Watchmen, will turn into live action.

12-18-2013, 02:39 PM
Its ok aslong as it doesnt turn into melodrama, i like it mostly when it is cool and fun. If thats the way with the show, then i fully support that.
But Disney had some good themes i think in the 90's, the golden age :)


Toshiro Tazukura
03-27-2014, 02:43 PM
Heavy metal was a great movie if you like music and

03-31-2014, 12:01 PM
Do you ever go to Disney movies?

04-01-2014, 12:50 AM
For cartoons in the PG to very light PG-13 range check out:
Legend of Korra. Teen Titans (some of this show is quite serious). Batman The Animated Series (later called The Adventures of Batman and Robin). The X-Men (either original X-Men cartoon, or any of the others like "X-Men Evolution", or "Wolverine and the X-Men"). Spider Man (any of the Spider Man cartoons). EXO Squad. Conan the Adventurer. Captain Planet.

For an obvious PG-13 cartoon, check out "War of the Worlds: Goliath".

Then there's outright R rated cartoons like Heavy Metal or Heavy Metal 2000.

For War of the Worlds: Goliath, check out the trailer at http://www.wotw-goliath.com/video_trailer2012.html
And the DVD for it will be available on Amazon.com tomorrow (April 1st) http://www.amazon.com/War-Worlds-Goliath-Adrian-Paul/dp/B00GB0ORSE
And the box-art is freaking epic! http://i.imgur.com/cHcTD4q.jpg
This movie is like Battle Tech mechs versus the Martian mechs!

05-03-2014, 05:29 PM
Try "Strange Frame" that was a good movie that came out last year.

CowBob RanchPants
05-21-2014, 10:41 AM
As mentioned before, a hand full of the action superhero series have been more on the serious side. Batman the Animated Series is a fine (and one of my favorite) example.

07-22-2014, 10:12 PM
The 3rd (and final) season of Moral Orel comes to mind. This hilarious adult swim show started to slowly deviate from the episodic comedy midwya through season one. This led to a very dramatic and dark finale for season 2, which the executives of Adult Swim loved. They asked the creator, Dino Stamatopoulos to make more episodes like it.

Adult Swim regretted this decision, as the first episode of Season 3 they saw (called "Alone") was possibly the darkest episode of the entire series. This episode three recurring characters who had in some way dealt with a form of sexual abuse. It showed in pretty stark detail how it messed them up in a frank manner. Unfortunately, this episode resulted in Season 3 being cut down to 13 episodes. Still, Season 3 of this show is some of the best American animation I have ever seen.

So yeah, even Adult Swim had serious material.

07-24-2014, 07:41 AM
As mentioned above there are some pretty decent shows like Young Justice and Legend of Korra

I would also like to add the DC animated movies to the list , which i find to be some of the most entertaining animations that the US have spawned . If you're into super heroes they are definitely a "must see". I recommend "Batman - The dark knight returns"(based on Frank Miller's comics) and "Justice League - The flashpoint paradox"
There are of course quite a few movies but these really stand out and are a great way to hooked on DC.I highly recommend them

07-25-2014, 12:59 AM
When you say, "Is any American animation serious?", I assume you're asking if there are any situation-based animated shows that are exclusively or predominantly "serious", right? Otherwise I have to agree with other posters that just because an animated show contains humour, that doesn't necessarily mean it can't be serious as well. However, I don't live in America, so my opinion is limited to personal perception of mainstream American animation (as aired on channels native to my country) and general knowledge of American animation.

In general I wouldn't say there are no "serious" American-animated shows, just that the quantity and variety of such shows is woefully disproportionate to that of humour-based American-animated shows, and certainly by comparison to anime. I don't think such an imbalance of animated content can be healthy for American society, anyway.

In America (and to a lesser extent, Europe) there has always been this prevailing social attitude that considers animation as little more than an accessible medium for kids. It's still ingrained into American society today and originates as far back as World War II, where animated shorts were indeed created as means of "escape" from a harsh reality in which there was much depression. The temporary remedy was provided in the form of animated characters, which were typically portrayed as comical anthropomorphic animals; and they were unique in the sense that they were effectively invincible; that is, no matter how brutally they were injured or killed, they could be brought back to life in subsequent episodes. During this period, adults gave themselves license to watch these animated shows among children; which was the general idea, because at a time of depression the human spirit was very fragile. However, after World War II, relative peace returned and American society began to rebuild and restructure itself. Within this process, conservative and Christian attitudes became prevalent (once again), and in turn this would influence the general direction of American animation. In response to an increasingly conservative society that began to deem adult viewing of animation (especially cartoons) as childish, the American animation industry began to refocus its resources on the most commercial and exploitable demographic: children.

The events as stated in the above historical summary has lead to an industry that mainly regards animation as a means to advertise commercial goods within the generally perceived tolerances of American society. Despite being increasingly challenged by more liberal and secular views, American society still remains rooted in Christian values (Old habits die hard, I guess...), hence the majority of Disney/Warner Bros.-animated shows still clinging to religious concepts such as "good and evil", as depicted by "heroes" and "villains".

But from a raw business standpoint, it boils down to the fact that kids are much easier to manipulate and influence than adults; and when it comes to animated shows, the former are more likely to respond to scenes of slapstick humour than say, thought-provoking drama. Even as an adult myself, I can tell you from personal experience that after a long, hard day at work, I'm more likely to watch an animated show that conveys through humour rather than drama (Family Guy, anyone?), because oftentimes I feel too mentally drained to properly process the latter. Given the commercial viability of said dominant demographic (kids), and assuming that I have typical adult viewing habits, it's perhaps any wonder that "serious" American-animated shows even exist. That said, it's difficult to conceive animation beyond humour value when I've been exposed to very little else. Albeit to a lesser extent, the same pattern can be generally observed in other western countries; and in America no less, I suspect that so long as demand for serious animated shows short of a cultural shift doesn't spawn in said dominant demographic, the cynic in me has little faith that a more diverse American animation industry will spring anytime soon.

Still, one can hope: the good news is that the internet has provided a visible platform for independent animation studios, many of which produce animation out of passion and aren't afraid to venture outside the commercially reliable safety net of humour for entertainment. Even the great Disney corporation had to effectively admit that its traditionally-animated movies were aging badly against relatively fresh overseas animated equivalents, especially in an age where American society would be more exposed to alternative cultural views. Even the more local animation studios at the time like Pixar and Dreamworks were effectively making Disney animation appear out of touch with modern American values--which it was, because while other animation studios were adapting to new-world "problems", Disney kept relying the same old tricks to please its core demographic, its image looking increasingly "uncool" until the anime-ish-looking Lilo & Stitch came along. So naturally Disney did what most greedy corporations do to threatening competitors and bought up Pixar; and though admittedly there have been successful releases since the buy-up, time will tell as to whether this was ultimately a good move by Pixar or not. Regardless, the floodgates of world culture are wide open, and Disney doesn't have as much control over the American animation industry (much less its core demographic) as it once did.

But I think I get where you're coming from. Even when an animated show is made for adults, it still tends to rely upon slapstick humour to convey serious situations; and frankly, this commercially-contrived practice is getting rather stale--and why outside of humour I turn to anime instead of American-animated shows. Not that anime isn't primarily targeted at kids and exploits through humour as well; but at least with anime I feel that other demographics (including mine) are taken more seriously, not regarded as an afterthought. And where American animation likes to shut its main demographic away from real-world problems, anime likes to (subtly) expose the same demographic to the same problems and play an active role in Japanese society.

By the way, though you may not believe me (and with good reason from this post), I do love American animation at heart; no really. But it's because I love it so much that I hate what it has become, that, as much as it's achieved it remains short of its potential. So much talent is squandered in the name of old-world commercialism. It's 2014, and 15 years on, I still view The Iron Giant as one of the finest examples of American animation (and though commercially successful, it might have been more so had it not been for the shortsighted marketing campaign by Warner Bros.), and shows that American animation can indeed handle serious themes every bit as potently as anime. It's just too bad that for the most part, the American animation industry is so commercially driven that it barely recognises animation as an art anymore, just a means to advertise extortionately-priced goods based on established animated characters.

09-03-2014, 06:59 PM


09-03-2014, 09:18 PM
I believe South Park to be an animation that takes education, newscasting, and tolerance between people very seriously.

10-20-2014, 04:45 PM
Half of American 90s Cartoons were geared toward serious things. Gargoyles, Aladdin, X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman..etc.

10-23-2014, 11:51 AM
The other half are geared towards selling toys.

I guess it depends on what you mean by "serious"


Space Cowboy 2112
10-30-2014, 06:15 PM
Uh the Boondocks is an American anime and its pretty good...its serious and funny but its really well made. Uh Black Dynamite is good too.

11-04-2014, 01:24 PM
Aeon Flux and the Max were a little too serious.

11-05-2014, 12:42 AM
Actually Aeon Flux didn't get serious until it became a show series. When it started as a segment for Liquid Television, it was more of a Wiley E. Coyote thing with how can they kill her in the funniest way. It wasn't until they made the shorts into a half-hour series that they made it purely serious and with any sort of meaning. See the interview with Peter Chung on the 2005 DVD release of complete series for proof.

11-06-2014, 02:18 PM
I only saw the series.

Anyway what do you mean by "serious"? A serious attempt at a good show? Drama? Action? Comedy?

What exactly are you looking for?

11-26-2014, 11:15 AM
Avatar: The Last Airbender had a good mix of both.
The Original Teen Titans
Young Justice althought it was cut early on.
Ultimate Spiderman
Justice League

There are plent of Western Cartoons that have serious in them, but they also have to add the comedy.

Teen Titans GO was created to be a bubbly show based of the character designs.

11-30-2014, 10:00 PM
I see what you're saying but at the same time I see a need for humor in everything. Life is too serious, so many ways to get sick or die, so In a way we all need some thing funny to take our minds away from all the bad "negative" things. Laughter truly is the best medicine.

I agree there is a time to be serious, but I couldn't imagine a show void of humor.

12-11-2014, 04:51 PM
Oh anything can be humorous.


12-22-2014, 03:29 PM
Is this serious enough for you?


01-01-2015, 09:42 AM
Are you serious >.< . I think it really good movies