Adult Animation Revolution: Creators Moving Into Adult Animation
by Tito W. James
Narrative-driven adult animation is growing with every year. Audiences and creators have grown tired of the narrative constraints placed on family shows and are pursuing more provocative stories. We’re truly entering a new golden age of adult animation as cartoon creators are using their imaginations to explore uncharted territory within the medium. Here are several cartoon creators that have set their sights on adult animation and why you should be excited.
Primal and Samurai Jack creator, Genndy Tartakovsky is developing two animated feature films for Sony Pictures Animation. Fixed is an R-rated animated comedy about a bachelor dog who tries to make his night the best ever after hearing that he’s going to be neutered. Black Knight is an original, action-adventure epic that tells the story of a highly skilled and faithful knight who, after failing to protect his king, must transform himself into the Black Knight to save the kingdom.
Tartakovsky also announced a fantasy teen adventure series for HBO MAX titled, Unicorn Warriors Eternal. The character designs for Unicorn Warriors Eternal appear to be spiritual successors to Tartakovsky’s unfinished cult-favorite show Sym-Bionic Titan. Unicorn Warriors Eternal follows a team of ancient heroes protecting the world from an ominous force.
Throughout history, unicorns have symbolized the virtuous, appearing to ensure that goodness reigns. When the reawakening of our heroes comes too early, they find themselves in the bodies of teenagers. Damaged as a result, their memories of who they are and the history of the unicorn over the centuries have been lost, with some of their magical abilities weakened and fragmented. Not only do they have to protect the world against the prevailing darkness, they have to do it while navigating the unexpected laughs and humor that come with teen angst and emotions.
Maya and the Three creator, Jorge R. Gutierrez has also announced via Twitter that he’s working on a top secret adult animated project. Gutierrez cited Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, and Devilman Crybaby as influences on Maya and the Three, so we can only imagine what he’ll do with an M-rated story. Gutierrez has hinted that the characters designed by his wife and Muse, Sandra are looking pretty spicy. Whatever Gutierrez is planning, I can guess it’ll pack a punch.
There are more creators who’ve announced that they’re developing stories for adult animation including; Alex Hirsch (Gravity Falls), Michael Rianda (Mitchells vs the Machines), Rad Sechrist (Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts), and Owen Dennis (Infinity Train). All of these creators have shown a commitment to nuanced characters and long form storytelling that garnered them fanbases of kids and young adults alike. It will be exciting to see what they come up with when their hands are no longer tied by the commercial constraints of family entertainment.