I'm a budding sound designer and composer for film. I live, eat and breathe movies!
Published February 22nd 2013
Animations TV series that will distort reality
As some of you may know, I am an aspiring sound designer for film and animation. Because of this, I do tend to watch a lot of cartoons, whether it be aimed at children or adults. The following list is of my 5 favourite animated series NOT FOR KIDS. They often contain graphic violence, sexual references or strange images. Enjoy!
Those of you who used to watch MTV in the early 90s will know of this amazing sci-fi series.
Set in a dystopian future, where the weird becomes the norm, the show centres on the main character, Aeon Flux, and her exploits dodging authorities. A plethora of surreal and often thought provoking concepts are touched upon, including fetishes, sadomasochism, inter-species relations, cloning, nano-technologies and physical enhancements. The first two seasons of the show are essentially a series of short films where Aeon always dies at the end, often by ridiculous means. The third season is the only chapter with dialogue and a story.
Aeon Flux is graphically violent yet highly intelligent and never shy to address sexuality. The animation style is 2D, which distorts both perspective view and physical proportions.
A word of warning – the live action movie of Aeon Flux must be avoided at all costs. It's a badly hashed together, bubble-and-squeak film with severely terrible character portrayals and a ridiculous story. DO NOT WATCH THE MOVIE!
I have to say that Cartoon Network's Adult Swim has released some of the strangest, most bizarre animations for adults. Xavier Renegade Angel is at the pinnacle of Adult Swim's strangest.
The show follows Xavier, a wandering Native American, pondering life and sharing his notions to those he passes in the desert. His appearance is nothing but ordinary with a beak for a nose, a snake for a hand, backwards bending legs and six nipples. Similar to South Park, it follows the absurdist humour route, although Xavier is much more psychedelic and philosophical. Some of the themes incorporated include religion, multiple realities, existentialism, ethical debates (such as abortion and animal cruelty), altered states of consciousness, sexual freedom and Freudian concepts just to name a few.
Ultimately, Xavier Renegade Angel questions all aspects of life and death to the point of ludicrousness, without failing to shock with graphic and mostly disturbing images. The animation style is a very blocky and often badly rendered 3D style but it just adds to the overall absurdity.
This show, from what I can gather, is co-created by John Lee who also co-created Xavier Renegade Angel. Similarly it has disturbing visuals but is much more blatantly gratuitously violent. The themes involved in the show are much less intellectual choosing to be more visually perturbing but also touching on social behaviour, gender identity, dimensional realities and totalitarianism.
The series is set in a "super" jail; a jail outside the law where the worst criminals are incarcerated. The prison is overseen by a goofy but magical warden, a muscular head guard named Alice, an anxious accountant and of course, Jailbot, the security robot who shows no mercy when it comes to keeping the inmates in line. The inmates themselves are by no means ordinary, frequently resorting to extreme violence to rectify situations.
The animation style is 2D with quite flat colours (limited colour palette) and grotesque imaginings of characters. The show, all in all, is a no holds barred, brutal interpretation of the prison setting where continuity is not always necessary especially when most of the characters seem to perish in every episode. Lookout for the moment in each episode where all hell breaks loose and everything descends into absolute chaotic violence.
It's hard to describe this animated series. Unlike the previously mentioned shows with severe violence or absurd themes, The Maxx is much more understated.
It centres on the anti-hero, The Maxx, who is a burly, purple homeless oaf, often found sleeping in a cardboard box down a dark alley. His mental state is clouded with insecurities and frequently he is pulled into the imaginary world of "The Outback" where strange creatures populate the land. In this reality he is a superhero who defeats all foes and saves The Jungle Queen. The series gets weirder when the creatures from his mind begin entering into the real world.
The show is much slower than the other animations I have discussed, with lengthy internal monologues and personal conflict. The animation style is very 90s with a comic book feel. Often the scenes are virtually still images with existential voiceovers.
Based on the comics by Todd McFarlane, Spawn is a dark, brooding story about a murdered special agent, who is brought back to life to serve as Hell's servant and lead the army of darkness. Renamed Spawn, he is unable to relinquish his past life and resists the evil urges. Instead he unleashes his brutality on those who deserve it. Weaved into the story include a demonic obese clown, corrupt politicians, callous police, snooping detectives, bounty hunters and of course your usual ruthless, gun toting bad guys who Spawn annihilates with extreme prejudice.
The overall dark atmosphere is similar to Batman, if only Batman ever ripped his enemies in half with chains. The story at times can be slow with lashings of self-pity and torment. The plodding pace, however, adds multiple levels and facets to the characters and plot; really questioning who and what are right and wrong. Reflecting its comic book origins, the animation is very noir-esque and stylishly violent. The voice acting is superb and the sound design is so flawless you forget you're watching an animation. Spawn is a slow-burning gem that will not fail to impress.
Another word of warning though, steer clear of the Spawn live action movie. It is possibly the worst film I have ever seen with shameful acting, dated CGI and awful writing. You have been warned!