Whether they are bright and colourful, dark and gritty, off-beat and wacky, or cutesy and sweet, cartoons have been around for decades.
The first animated cartoon was apparently created in 1908 by Émile Cohl, but it has been said that some were made even earlier still. Cohl’s cartoon, named Fantasmagorie, involved a stick figure going through a series of different transformations and encountering other characters and objects. Check it out below, it’s quite sweet:
But as society became more advanced in technology and culturally aware, cartoons have developed into something more than just stick figures and changing shapes. Nowadays, cartoons are constantly pushing the limits to bring us the most unique and insane worlds with equally unique and insane characters to put in them. And as I’m sure you will all agree, the results are pretty freaking awesome.
I’ve loved cartoons ever since I was in primary school. Like, seriously loved them. I was in love with them. I remember tuning in to The Raccoons on a Saturday morning before I went for my swimming lesson, watching Hey Arnold after school, and secretly changing the TV channel to South Park every evening when my Mum was asleep. They were just so unlike real life, and I think that was the most appealing thing. They were crazy, funny, happy, super, and just so cool. I wanted to be like these characters.
These days, now that I’m 22 and working at a desk, I’m aware that it’s highly unlikely that I won’t become any of them (but only slightly aware – I’m still keeping the faith that someone will offer me a job as Storm). But I still love watching them. The child in me loves watching them. And I get the feeling that I’m not alone in this.
Despite the fact that cartoons have some pretty eccentric characters, I think that there’s a lot that can be learned from them. Cartoons are educational, and I don’t just mean the ones which actually are educational, like Blue’s Clues or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – even the ones that aren’t setting out to teach us something, still manage to…well, teach us something.
Take The Simpsons, for example: they’re bright yellow, have eight fingers, Marge has abnormally high blue hair, they’ve been fugitives, clowns, police officers, astronauts and the target of a homicidal maniac that sounds a lot like Frasier Crane, but they teach us that at the end of the day, what matters is family, and families stick together no matter what. What could be more important than that?
And then there’s shows like Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show. Sure, they might be offensive and have the odd musical number that comes out of nowhere, but whenever there’s conflict, it’s always resolved in the right way. Not only do they teach us about family, but they also teach us to forgive others as well as apologise for our own mistakes, and to know the difference between right and wrong. And South Park? I don’t even need to tell y’all how mad that show is, but it still carries a positive message with it, about ourselves and society.
Let’s face it: we all need cartoons, adults and children. They are so much more than just flashing colours and catchy theme tunes (although a lot of cartoon theme tunes are brilliant) and when life gets you down, they are always there, saying, “Yeah man, your life really does suck right now. But ours doesn’t…fancy joining in for a while?”
Here are 10 of my favourite cartoons, in no particular order (I tried ordering them and it gave me a headache):
Tom and Jerry
The old school Itchy and Scratchy. I’ve never understood how kids’ TV channels can air this one – even I think it’s violent. Every object in the house (which changes, like, every episode) can be used as a weapon: seriously, I’ve seen things done with a sandwich that I didn’t think were possible. But the fight scenes are comical as well as creative, which means it’s so easy to look past Tom getting his face slammed into an iron because you’ll be too busy laughing at his iron-shaped head after. And that’s what makes it great. Check it out:
Such a shame that this got cancelled. It combines two of my favourite things: TV and food. What I love most about it is the names they give their dishes, recognisable but with a cartoon-y twist, such as Thrice Cream and Shmeg Salad. I also love the fact that, even though they are not related, they behave like a family: they argue sometimes but they look out for each other when it comes to the crunch. It’s…so beautiful…and yummy *wipes tear*:
Used to watch this religiously when I was younger (and when it was shown on ‘CNX’, which then became ‘Toonami’, which then became ‘CN Too’). They used to show day-long marathons of it, non-stop, back-to-back, at the weekend, and I was addicted. I particularly loved the Bibidi, Babidi and Buu sagas, because those three bad guys just WOULD NOT DIE. It would take about 10 episodes to even get near them; they were invincible! Goku even had to combine his powers with Vegeta’s! And who can forget the famous Kamehameha (not sure if I spelt that right), and even that took about half an hour to get going. Ah, good times, eh?
This one needs no introduction, but I’ll give you one anyway. The Simpsons has practically been around since time immemorial, and I don’t think it’s going any time soon either. With its laugh-out-loud humour, lovable characters and classic one-liners, (D’oh!) every single episode delivers every time, all the time. Nope, The Simpsons ain’t going nowhere. Long may they continue.
Note of interest – Helen loves this Simpson’s moment so much, it’s her goddamn ringtone. Not sure if that’s awesome or borderline psychotic.
This show is offensive, violent, and crude. And I love it. Ever since Eric Cartman got an alien satellite stuck up his jacksie, we all knew South Park was a one. But behind the madness they really do talk a lot of sense. Not only that, but they’re not afraid to push the boundaries a little, like in the Cartoon Wars episodes, and even in the film South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, which contains the most amount of swear words in any movie. Like The Simpsons, I don’t think South Park has reached the end just yet, which can only mean one thing – shit’s about to get even crazier up in hurr (obvs this is NSFW):
Pokémon pretty much set the tone for all cartoons of this genre: it made way for shows like Digimon (below), Yu-gi-Oh! and Bakugan: Battle Brawlers. I got seriously into Pokémon: I taped it every Saturday on SM:TV, I saw the movies (and PAID to see them at the cinema), I had the trading cards, books, toys, everything. It was my life – but then it kinda slipped downhill a little when Brock decided to ‘leave’ and they added other strange characters that I knew nothing about. But here’s to the good old days. Ready everyone? And… ‘I wanna be, the very best…’
Yes, I know. How can I like Pokemon and Digimon? I’ll tell you how. Easily. I think maybe it was because it was so like Pokemon that I loved it so much – that and Matt. Matt was foine. I even used to dress in dark colours so I could be like him (true story – unfortunately). But come on guys, even if you do think liking Digimon is sacrilege, you’ve got to admit, the theme tune rocks, right? And did you SEE the movie? Classic.
My infatuation with Storm began here, and it was one of the first cartoons I started watching (the others being Iron Man and Fantastic Four). It also led me to watch the numerous spin-offs and remakes (X-Men: Evolution, Wolverine and the X-Men etc.) The idea of people with superhuman powers fascinates me: seeing how they cope with their gifts/curses as well their ‘normal life’ problems is quite an interesting concept…and it also reminds me of that fateful day when I used myself as a guinea pig for an experiment with gamma rays that changed my life…oh, wait…
Ed, Edd and Eddy
For me, there is nothing more entertaining than watching three friends who have different variations of the same name scam residents of a cul-de-sac and ending up hurting themselves in the process. It’s one of my favourites basically because the whole thing is so wonderfully silly and exaggerated: the characters, the scenery, the plots, it’s all so cartoon-like. That and Ed has some of the best lines.
Just thinking about this cartoon makes me laugh. I think what makes it my one of my favourites is that the humour is kinda sarcastic and dry (which reminds me of Daria) and it’s the most ‘real’ cartoon out of all the others. And again, it shows you the real importance of family sticking together. Oh yeah, and it has burgers in it too. TV and food, man. TV and food.