Adult Animation Revolution: Annecy 2022 –The Future Of Adult Animated Film

by Tito W. James

Annecy Animation Festival is the world’s largest international animation festival. This year, a panel of animation creators and producers discussed the future of adult animated film. The panelists included Charlotte De La Gournerie (Sun Creature Studio, Flee), Amel Lacombe (Eruozoom), Bruno Felix (Submarine Studio, Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles), and Jan Kounen (Naia Productions).

The panelists explored the pros and cons of streaming services vs theatrical release. Love Death and Robots, Arcane, and anime like Akira were mentioned multiple times as breakthroughs for making narratively driven adult animation mainstream. The panelists agreed that the potential future success of adult animated films hinges on their ability to cultivate an audience of young people in their 20s.

As a member of the target audience these panelists are trying to reach, here’s what I’m looking for. Primarily, I want to see adult animation with aesthetic appeal and a dramatic narrative at its core. Vulgar, “Simpson’s style” comedies can be fun but they add nothing new to the artistic potential of animation. European comics and French Bandes dessinées would be the perfect source material for serious, sophisticated, and artistic animated feature films.

Additionally, I want there to be a variety of genres explored that’s as varied as live action. This can include anything from a high-concept tentpole blockbuster, a gritty period piece, an absurdist comedy, a stylized action thriller, or a fun horror film.

I’m glad the panelists also brought up an erotic film like Belladonna of Sadness. The exploration of sexual expression and sexual identity is still largely taboo in American animation. I trust European filmmakers could create something that is both artistic and erotic for an animated film.

It would also be wise for adult animation filmmakers to make connections within the larger anime fan base of young adults. Anime has a strong viewership of young adults because of its creativity and provocative subject matter. Ultimately, I believe that the audience that enjoys anime is the same audience that will enjoy narratively sophisticated adult animation.

In closing, I believe that the future of adult animated film is bright and we will witness films that couldn’t have existed before and that we can hardly imagine today.

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