Adult Animation Revolution: The Impact of Love Death and Robots
by Tito W. James
Love Death and Robots is an adult-oriented animated anthology series developed by David Fincher(Fight Club) and Tim Miller (Deadpool) that explores the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror in twisted and creative ways. When Love Death and Robots debuted in 2019, it shook up the animation landscape with its provocative content and jaw-dropping visuals. Now that the series has returned with its third volume, I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on the impact of Love Death and Robots.
The animated series began as a love letter to Heavy Metal Magazine which was known for its lavishly illustrated tales of dark fantasy, science fiction, and erotica. This was many Americans’ first exposure to European artists like Moebius, Philippe Druillet, and Milo Manara. Heavy Metal featured stories that were explicit and unrestricted by the constraints of the Comics Code Authority. Comparatively speaking, Love Death and Robots provides a similar shock to the system by exploring high concepts, graphic content, and adult themes.
The majority of animation in America has been pigeon-holed into comedies, broad-appeal, and brand specific art styles. By showcasing a wide variety of art styles and exploring new genres, Love Death and Robots pushed the envelope and sparked a much needed discussion about what animation is capable of.
In Bad Traveling, David Fincher delivers a chilling piece of horror by turning a pirate ship into the nest of of a repulsively gigantic crab. Tim Miller gives James Cameron’s Avatar a run for its money with a spectacular exploration of an alien society in Swarm. The Very Pulse of the Machine follows an astronaut as she navigates a surreal planet and comes to grips with her own mortality.
Oscar Wining Director Alberto Mielgo (The Windshield Wiper) astounds with Jibaro, a tale of a deaf knight encountering a dancing siren. Mielgo used his Oscar victory to advocate for animation being considered as cinema. I hope Mielgo and the team behind Jibaro create an original theatrical adult animated film. They’ve delivered the kind of transportive art that deserves to be seen on the big screen.
Narrative-driven animation for adult audiences is transitioning from a niche viewership to a wide audience. Even within the last three years we’ve seen an increase in more animated programs pushing for higher concepts and graphic content. The animation that comes in the next decade is sure to be informed by the impact of Love Death and Robots.