30 Day Challenge Day Nine: Favourite animation (or animation series)?

If you’re interested in participating in the Geek Out Challenge, read this post here! Each day I will be posting a question for that day for the next 30 days. Follow along each day with your own post or feel free to wait until the entire challenge has been released and take it on when you like! Be sure to link back to the master post at the end or link back to each post for each day.

Day Nine – Favourite animation (or animation series)?

Starting to push into uncharted or unfamiliar territory for me now, I’ve enjoyed western animated series over the years so I’m not adverse to the genre or against any particular style or presentation. I would love to highlight and wax lyrically about some niche, relatively unknown but highly regarded series but alas when it comes to animation I just can’t muster a jewel from the treasures that exist out there. Of course I could mention the staple classics I grew up with, the Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park, all great examples at various stages of animated series but I do feel, somewhat shamefully in contrast to my other compatriots on both this page and those I follow they are somewhat lacking in the annals of history. Therefore I am going to select a personal favourite animated film of mine, a slight guilty pleasure but one I do try to get into the habit of watching at least once a year and that is the somewhat forgotten Titan AE. Released in 2000 as the new millenium begun and the world was gripped in feverish panic we were all about to be destroyed by the Y2K virus, along came a somewhat traditional animated film that transported a waiting audience away from the typical Disney locations such as castles and medieval kingdoms and into a bleak, dystopian post apocalyptic future where the Earth was destroyed and humanity was very much on the precipice of annihilation acting in servitude in indenture to the alien species around them.

I talked about my first fandom on day one of this project, the positive optimistic world of Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek and how it had a positive influence on my perspective in my formative years. In many ways, Titan AE served as a fascinating contrast but also, complementary to that vision. As a framing point, humanity has been devastated with relatively few survivors to the catastrophe that envelops the world and those that survive forced to scavenge and live in servitude. However, that same human spirit and drive shines through the grim and foreboding setting and ultimately leads to the films, optimistic conclusion. That for me served a similar message to Star Trek which was a positive outlook for humanity when the human spirit is allowed to shine through. As a production, it is somewhat, inconsistent visually with some impressive effects for their time from the exterior, especially the ship battles and reflections in space. The character design and animation is by contrast fairly typical with what you come to expect and as such there is a strange contrast between the two that almost breaks the immersion as you alternate between the incredible and average.

The cast deliver their lines admirably, having been hugely disappointed with the monotone and flat dialogue in Break Point recently its amazing to thing nearly 20 years ago, in animated form you could believe and buy into the words being spoken. Tonally it is a somewhat bleak experience, you do find yourself projecting onto the main character who is very much one of the few surviving humans and find yourself wondering how you would feel and act in such a situation. I contest and challenge the notion the film lacks heart and soul, certainly, I’ll readily admit there is an argument to be for style over substance. As mentioned the film was pushing the curve on CGI effects crossed with traditional animated styling at that point in time and there are moments, certain long tracking shots in space that do feel from a direction stand point added to amaze an impressionable audience. But the optimism and drive of Cale as he holds onto his humanity, looking to bring the vision and purpose of his Dad’s legacy to life is refreshing and optimistic one. I do feel perhaps there are one or two plot twists that could have been disposed of, often it feels unnecessary, there is a heart to this story and scope to explore the wider universe of its existence that would have been intriguing to delve into.

Middling graphics, a forgettable soundtrack and a central narrative that at times fails to live up to the promise it sets itself. Hardly grounds to celebrate and champion however, overall it does still feel to me like an enjoyable movie and experience. It also feels really different to most films and series that came before and since, with the possible exception of something like Firefly which also uses a similar mechanic of the destroyed Earth trope and the survivors of humanity. For me it was the first taste of this particular narrative approach and as such just different from other science fiction shows I had enjoyed to date. Probably as I was in the right target audience I enjoyed the more light hearted exchanges between characters, not everything has to feel like a laborious diatribe and a weight of exposition. Sometimes, you need a few light hearted jokes to push the story forward, when I first watch Guardians of the Galaxy I was left with a similar impression although neutered somewhat as you knew humanity and Earth and survived and that was more a fish out of water experience. Is Titan AE a faultless masterpiece? certainly not, and I would wager not even really timeless as you don’t tend to see it repeated to often these days. But for me, it’s a rough gem, sitting proudly on my science fiction shelf in my collection.

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