Animation has the potential to appeal to a wide range of ages

People of all ages have fond memories of watching cartoons as a child, whether it be “SpongeBob Squarepants” or “The Flintstones.” But cartoons and animation as an art form can be so much more; not only can it be a vital form of early learning for kids, it can also create beautiful pieces of entertainment that appeals to all ages.

Take for example “Samurai Jack,” a cartoon about a samurai warrior going on a quest to defeat a supernatural demon. The show seems simple enough, but there is one catch that makes the show interesting: the main character rarely speaks. With the minimal use of dialogue, the show relies purely on its visual aspects and powerful imagery to tell the story. Visual storytelling is a key element of animation’s power, and has been a large contributor to the medium’s success.

Animation also appeals to a wide range of people. One show I feel demonstrates this concept well is “Adventure Time.” During its airing (2010-2018), “Adventure Time” was enjoyed by adults and children alike. While at its core it was a kid’s show, “Adventure Time” had common themes and stories that can be translated to all audiences. Between the jokes and misadventures, one could find themes of friendship, family, self identity, love, and more. Virtually anyone can find something to connect to within the show and find themselves emoting the same way they would for any other piece of art.

On a similar note, cartoons can introduce complex ideas and heavy themes in a way that is engaging for children without being too adult in its content. For this point, I immediately think of a moment from the “Justice League” animated series. A villain with reality warping powers is getting out of control and is close to having an aneurysm, when she dies, her powers will erupt and destroy everything around her. Batman is then tasked with killing the woman before this happens.

Batman, with no intention to kill her, finds the woman on a swing set in the middle of a meadow that she created, where she tells Batman that she knows she’s close to death and asks him solemnly, “Will you sit with me, I’m scared.” Instead of killing the woman, Batman sits next to her and holds her hand until she dies peacefully, without causing destruction. This beautiful moment shows the audience, especially children, that sometimes it is better to show empathy and find the good in people, no matter what.

The true power and impact of animation is often overlooked; most view the medium as childish, but that mindset is a major disservice to the art form. Animation can connect to a wide range of people in an engaging way that other art forms seldom replicate. This form of storytelling is vital — not only to children, but to our culture as a whole.

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