I’ve always felt that animation was a superior art form compared to live action, and that’s not just because I was raised on it as a kid. I’ve become very intimately familiar with the medium, carefully observing all kinds of animation from both East and West, and both old and new, and even though I don’t want to be an animator (those poor tormented sadists), I’ve always been inspired by animation. Hell, all those cartoons are what inspired me to be a writer and artist in the first place.
Of course, not a lot of the population feels this way. In fact, there has been considerable debate about which is the better art form – animation or live action. On the one hand, animation can let filmmakers, TV producers and even advertisers do more than could be possible in the real world with just the power drawing (digital or otherwise), while live action simulates the real world more effectively. I’m here to make the case that animation really is better than live action filming, and while I’m aware that this might be a biased article, I’m sure that I’m right in this case.
Let’s start with the technique itself. Animation involves simulating movement with a sequence of drawings, while live action films and TV shows involve staging a set and shooting scenes with a camera. Since live action involves capturing scenes in a real life setting, the look of the film depends on the camera, and even then, depending on the genre, many live action films will look almost the same, even if mainly because of the production techniques involved. In animation, the look of the finished product will depend on the artist who made the drawings, and thus the best animations are drawn by talented artists. This is why I feel that animation requires greater technique than live action, and why the technique of animation allows for a freer and more powerful avenue of storytelling than live action.
Speaking of storytelling, people often assume that animation is a genre, with a set of precepts much like in any other genre, but as anyone who knows about animation will know, that simply isn’t true. Animation is essentially a storytelling technique, and animated films and TV shows have encompassed just as many genres as live action films, and has sometimes created even more subgenres (especially in Japan). Because of the lack of physical limitations that would be present in live action, you could write an animation about whatever you want, and that can lead to more entertaining and gripping stories than most live action TV shows can claim to offer. One needs only to look to shows such as Steven Universe in order to figure out why.
Some would say that animated shows are mindless fare. And reality TV shows aren’t? Let’s face it, reality TV shows are the most mindless form of entertainment ever conceived, and guess what they count as. Unless you count Drawn Together as an “animated reality TV show”, they’re all live action shows, and they’re way more harmful to the mind than all the cartoons and comic books in the world. In movies, animation is generally considered to be children’s fare, but that simply isn’t true. There have been adult-oriented animated productions for many years now, and I would contend that many of the more brainless films in the market are live action films. I’ve seen many films in my time, and all the live action romantic comedies, superhero films, horror films, and slapstick comedies I’ve seen are much more mindless than some people claim animation to be.
For me, the main reason why animation is better than live action is the amount of freedom that it offers. While live action is bound by laws of physics that require cheesy computer generated effects to bypass, animation is bound only by the limits of imagination and budget, and thus I argue that there are greater artistic possibilities to be taken advantage of in animation than in live action. That’s a sentiment that I think is confirmed by what’s on TV. While nearly every live action TV show continues to lumber in the clichés of the medium, animated TV shows are having fun with the medium, especially in Japan, where it seems like anything goes.
Of course, I’m not dumb enough to assume that animation isn’t without its cliches. Due to the public’s stereotypical assumptions of animation, most Western animated TV shows and movies are aimed at children (though some manage to attract an older audience). Japanese animation tends to have its own clichés, especially as anime producers have been focusing on securing their existing fan base, rather than expanding the audience (many attribute this problem to the decline of the anime industry). Perhaps this is because, like any other form of entertainment, animation must find an audience in order to survive, and I guess that’s why you see a number of clichés recurring both East and West. Then again, all entertainment has its clichés, so it’s unwise to blanket judge all animation because of it.
Aside from that, I never really cared about live action TV. I’ve watched some, and most of them are boring. I’ll like some live action shows (I definitely consider myself a Game of Thrones fan), but I just prefer animation better. I feel that animation is a more techinical and imaginative art form, and that’s why I think it’ll always beat live action hands down. My passion for animation is so great that, if I was offered the chance to make one of my story ideas into a film, I would insist on it being an animated film.
Given everything I’ve said here in this article, I think I’ve made my case quite clear. Of course, I acknowledge that everyone has different tastes, and I wouldn’t insult people just for preferring live action over animation. Though if there’s one thing I despise, it’s when people make ignorant assumptions about animation. For those who don’t know much about animation, I encourage you to watch as much animated shows as possible. Immerse yourself in the medium, and you’ll find something quite enchanting.