Netflix recently premiered the series The Liberator, a drama about a team of American soldiers in World War II and their latest take on the small but colorful world of adult animated series. The great public and critical success that it was BoJack Horseman, Its biggest cartoon phenomenon ended its broadcast this year, but the platform has continued to push original productions. Mainly comedies (Tuca and Bertie), but there are also psychedelic experiments like Midnight Gospel, horror anime like Castlevania and even a science fiction anthology Love, Death & Robots.
Other platforms have also sought to gain their space in a market not long ago seen as limited. Last year Amazon Prime Video premiered the drama Undone, which had a great critical reception. HBO Max grabbed the comedy Close Enough by JG Quintel, creator of Current stories for Cartoon Network, after cable channel TBS canceled its plans for an adult animation strip.
Although no date yet for its arrival in Spain, the US platform Hulu launched last week a reboot from Animaniacs, those Warner drawings produced by Steven Spielberg from the early nineties. Although it is suitable for all audiences, among the more mature winks and jokes – the original cartoon had parodies of Apocalypse Now Y One of ours– The appeal to hook the nostalgic millennial audience is palpable. Harley Quinn Y Star Trek: Lower Decks, broadcast in the US on the DC Universe and CBS All Access platforms, are spin-offs of multi-million dollar franchises that show that these conglomerates see that there is business in what was once a space dominated by a few giants and full of ephemeral productions.
New adults, new cartoons
The world of adult animated series has seen great changes in the last 20 years. When Cartoon Network launched its Adult Swim strip in 2001, the market was dominated by Fox productions (The Simpson, Futurama, King of the Hill Y Family Guy) and exceptions, like South Park, Daria O Dr. Katz they were few or had an ephemeral life, mainly because they lacked the audience to justify the production costs. The first productions of Adult Swim, for example, were 15 minutes long and low-budget, a far cry from Rick and morty, the most successful cartoon to emerge from the block.
Behind this phenomenon is, in part, technology, which makes the production of an animated series, as well as the distribution of content, more dynamic and accessible. But there is also a generational factor, where the idea of cartoons designed for an adult audience is no longer a novelty. The oldest in this audience have lived their entire lives with the Simpsons or the people of South Park, Colorado. The youngest, meanwhile, have grown up with Adventure Time, Steven Universe Y Gravity Falls, Animations supposedly childish but that have redefined thematic, narrative and audience types schemes and are an example that mature does not necessarily have to be only for adults.
A recent advantage is that the animation industry in general, unlike the productions acted, has not had to stop the march in the face of the covid-19 pandemic. Variety reported in May that the production team of The Simpson He was already telecommuting a week before California officially decreed a quarantine. The report notes that, as animation teams are already used to organizing themselves in small, independent groups, the main challenge was connecting to the Internet and maintaining the quality of the voice actors.
Despite this growth, the life of these series continues to be so precarious, and the whims of the channels and platforms, as unpredictable, as with the rest of the series. TO Close Enough, which is broadcast on TNT Spain, the chapters were cut from 24 to 12 minutes at the request of HBO Max. The spy parody Archer, created by Adam Reed, was due to end in its 10th season (on Netflix) but returned in September to the US channel FXX without its creator at the helm. Tuca & Bertie, which had important figures from the old team of BoJack Horseman behind, it was canceled by Netflix only to revive on Adult Swim.
Netflix announced a few weeks ago an alliance with four animation studios in Asia. There is still the threat of reaching a saturation point in the world of animated series for adults – like series in general, really. Or worse: if once American channels were looking for the next hit comparable to The SimpsonLet the platforms degenerate trying to find the next BoJack.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.