Seven years after the end of Teen Titans, the show was brought back on air, this time titled Teen Titans Go! While the original voice cast was brought back, there were many other changes made. The changes made to Teen Titans were made to ensure the successful change of the targeted demographic. The new version of the show was never intended to be a continuation of the old series but rather a new one just keeping the dynamic of the interactions between the five main characters. According to one of the producers, Michael Jelenic, one of the main points of having him work with the other producer, Aaron Horvath, was that he was not previously involved with anything comic book related. Jelenic went on to say that, “They want to stay away from being too loyal to these old shows. They don’t want someone from the old show to put in a joke that only they would get. Aaron has no loyalty.”
Intros from Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go!
At first glance, the revamped show does not appear like a success, especially when comparing it to the first. However, if you view it with the intention behind it being a younger demographic this changes. The episodes split from one 22 minute episode to two individual, shorter episodes. There is no overarching plot throughout the season. The show is much more colorful and has quite lighter plot lines. Even the changing atmosphere of the show helps to show how the targeted audience is much younger.
According to Common Sense Media (a website that rates and reviews all types of media targeting children for parents) the original series was all about the fight scenes. The new version has a much more positive review reading: “. . . the characters’ secondary personas as “normal” teens living together in their home/command center is the show’s focus, so the stories center on how they deal with everyday troubles like divvying up chores, jealousy, and trying to be a good friend. Of course, the fact that they have superpowers (and live on their own) always complicates matters since there’s so much potential for comical mayhem. There are some exchanges of blows and weapons (swords, a staff, gunfire from a robotic arm), but it’s not central to the stories’ themes, and it’s very short-lived. Positive themes of friendship, compromise, and resolving differences are tangible in some of the stories as well.” From these ratings you can see how the the changes made the show go from a show which targeted older teens to one made for younger audiences.
The proof of their success is clear as day. The premier of Teen Titans Go had 2 million viewers, and according to the same source went on to become the number one kids program in the 2-14 years old demographic.
In 2012 Disney released a short animation called Paperman which went on to win an Oscar. The six minute tale was created using a new technology known as Meander (basically involves combining 2D and 3D into one animation, but follow the link for a more technical explanation). I believe that this process could successfully be used in a feature length animation. According to the director of Paperman, John Kars, the idea: “was to bring across the expressiveness and individuality imparted to characters by an artist’s hand and merge it with the power and flexibility of computer generated imagery”. He also wanted to bring back Disney’s legacy of 2D in a 3D dominated age. There’s a reason that this technology was able to make a film so beautiful. It makes it so that animations get to combine the beautiful designs of computer generated worlds, like in Pixar’s Up, with the old Disney magic of hand drawn lines.
John Kars has said in an interview that he is still perusing the use of Meander. While he does not mention using the technology for feature length animations, I do not think that it is too far in the future. Disney and Pixar often use shorts to experiment as they advance their art before using the advancements in feature length films. This is shown in how: “Steamboat Willie introduced sound and it is generally accepted knowledge that the feathers in For The Birds were an early test for Sulley’s fur.” While the Meander process is labor intensive that has never been an issue for Disney. As Walt has said, “Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it, until it’s done, and done right”.
We are always told that a picture tells a thousand words. However, can that picture successfully tell the story a few sentences would have? Or in the case of an animation, can a ten minute short tell a story without having any dialogue between the main characters? The Reward, a nine minute short by The Animation Workshop, shows that this is quite possible. Dialogue is not needed to successfully tell a moving story in a short animation.
While this short does include the characters making vocal sounds (laughter, squeals, groans) I do not believe that this can be counted as dialogue since no true words are spoken. The film starts with the two main characters getting a treasure map. As they are fighting over the map, they accidentally rip it in half. After this they agree to work together to find the treasure. The short follows them along their journey as they become closer and better friends until they find the real reward at the end (I won’t spoil what the reward is–but be sure to watch after the credits). There is action and drama, arguments and agreements all without a single sentence being uttered. If this does not show you that dialogue is not necessary in animations, I don’t know what will.
I made a point of specifying short animations because I’m not sure how well it consistently transfers to full length features. The only example I can think of is the Pixar Film Wall-E which includes limited dialogue, however there still is some. Partially due to this, some reviews believed that it had a better reception with adults than children. However, it still did very well in the box office, and the film has many fans boasting of the storytelling. Until there is a feature length animation without any dialogue, I will have to stick with limiting the success to shorts without dialogue.