OK, I know what you’re thinking, you look at the title of this article and shout “This guy is insane!” Comparing all the awesome toons we have now to pedestrian fan-fictions!? How dare he!? But I promise you dear reader that this is by no means an insult, in fact it’s a compliment, just….give me a chance to explain.
If you are an older millennial or Gen-Xer you probably remember how shows were back in the day. Not saying they weren’t good, heck there’s a lot of great older toons out there, but it was quite obvious that they were scripted shows. Heavy on exposition with the occasional stiff dialogue or cheesy uncle joke. Action series, like DC & Marvel comic’s at the time followed a very rigid and strict structure and comedies while fairly witty at times also followed down a very narrow line of paths. In modern times however we have seen a change in how content creators approach animated series. While it is true these shows are still scripted out, the way in which dialogue is formed and even the way scenes are executed seems to have vastly changed over the course of the course of the decade.
The most notable change in writing is how characters dialogue seems to be more natural and organic. animated television series aren’t afraid to have off-beat, awkward dry, and nerdy humor. On top of this many animated series have been made with the characters as the main focus with the narrative and gags built around them to serve and develop them as opposed to the other way around which was arguably quite a common in many older series. There is also a tendency to mix the tedium of daily life with the most extreme of fantastical occurrences (Such as the premier of Final Space where the lead character cared more about getting a cookie from the cafeteria and impressing his a woman who quite obviously hates him, despite all the over the top sci-fi antics abounding around him) creating both a nice relatibility and humanization of the characters while still making an interesting enough story for the viewer to remain engaged in and entertained by. Series also aren’t afraid to have a deeper level of emotional aspects to their stories, series like Adventure Time, My Little Pony/Equestria Girls, Steven Universe and yes even We Bare Bears have all had heart-tugging and emotionally complex character and story moments during their runs. Modern animation has truly redefined the level of depth writers can go to in the terms of both individual characters as well as character/group relationships and dynamics.
But how does this relate to fan-fiction you may ask? Well the truth is fan-fics have been doing this for quite some time. Many of the more well written works for franchises online (that aren’t just porn that is) feature complex and in-depth emotional moments as well as just sweet mundane scenes and dialogues of the characters just enjoying daily life. The fact that many modern animations don’t shy away from the more emotional or more slice of life moments as often as they used to really shows not only how far the medium has come, but also how the more flexible writing style of modern animated series has given writers and content creators a wider brush to paint their narratives with and greater ability to add more depth to their characters.
Also take into account many of the modern content creators were inspired by the things they were fans of growing up, be it Fantasy, Sci-fi, anime, hanna-barbera, video games, comics, film, what have you. Modern content creators have taken their childhood loves and made wonderful original and revitalized content from inspiration of their own childhood loves, their own passions and fandoms.
So yes, in closing, modern animation, more so then ever before is fan-fiction, and that is by no means a bad thing!