Is Animation Just for Kids? (Final)


I have loved animation for as long as I can remember, but now that I’m older, I take time to appreciate what I see and it often brings me to tears. Just seeing a visually pleasing background or a particularly satisfying character movement is enough to bring on the water works. Because of my passion for animation, I watch a lot of animated series and movies, and take them seriously as a story-telling technique. Unsurprisingly, some people don’t put animation on as high a pedestal as I do, but actually say its a medium simply for children. I argue that animation is a form of media for anyone and everyone to enjoy.

“Sucking at something is the first step to being sort of good at something.””

— Jake the Dog

Life Lessons

Some of my favorite animated series teach subtle lessons that I believe adults need to be reminded of. These lessons may be simple, but they can go a long way when applied in everyday life. Steven Universe teaches about loving yourself, your past doesn’t define who you are, different types of relationships, and the acceptance of others. Gravity Falls teaches us to never be ashamed of who you are and that change is a natural part of life. Adventure Time covers loving unconditionally, not make assumptions about people, and to try new things. The lessons these shows teach and demonstrate are important, and are things that everyone should practice in their own lives.

You may be thinking that lessons are only in shows for small children, shows that build episodes around the specific thing they’re aiming to teach. The shows I’ve cited don’t work that way. They build the plot and story of the episode and these emotions and experiences come as a result of quality story-telling. The things we see these characters go through and the lessons they learn feel like a natural part of their character arch and them growing as a person.

Steven Universe: Kiki’s Pizza Delivery Service, Kiki and Steven fighting her pizza demons

In Kiki’s Pizza Delivery Service,” from Steven Universe, Kiki had recently started doing all the work of her twin sister, Jenny, because she wanted to be with her friends. Kiki explains to Steven that she has been having horrible pizza-themed nightmares and Steven tries to save the day by helping her battle her pizza demons– literally, as she sleeps at night. But after a week or so of Steven not getting any sleep himself, he helps Kiki realize that she has the power to say ‘no’ to her sister. In the end, Jenny gives Kiki the day off and starts doing her half of the work again. This teaches people the value of self-care and the importance of talking to others about how you feel– good lessons that many adults I know would benefit from learning themselves.

Good Stories

Danny Phantom: The Million Dollar Ghost

Sure lessons are great, but people don’t watch cartoons to learn something, and what’s better than relaxing and watching a great story unfold right before your eyes. Why should these interesting and fun stories only be experienced by children simply because of the method in which they were made? That’s because they shouldn’t. Most of my favorite stories are those told by animated series. Danny Phantom is about a teenage boy with ghost powers fighting off other ghosts. The comic-book like fighting sequences and  title screen jokes alone are enough to make anyone smile. Chowder is a series based around a scatter-brain apprentice with an enormous appetite through his adventures at Mung Daal’s Catering Company. The show is sure to make you laugh with the character’s personalities, puns, and fourth wall breaks. Invader Zim follows the efforts of the out-cast alien invader, Zim, and his plots to over throw the Earth. This show is much darker than most cartoons as it paints humanity as idiots who over-look Zim’s plans and consistently blame the planet’s sole– but often unwanted hero, Dib, for all the mayhem. These shows pull us in with a cool concept, but make us stay for the stories they have to share.

These stories are enjoyable, immersive, and lovable for people of all ages. Not experiencing these amazing works of story-telling and great lessons, just because of the format in which they’re presented. Brushing off animation simply as child’s television would be like refusing to read a book because you didn’t like font of the text. The next time you see an animated series you’re even remotely interested in, give it a try, I know you’ll love what you find.