Why I Take Animation Seriously
By: Justin Cummings
“We take animation seriously,” that’s the tagline for Overly Animated. I’ve had it memorized since the first day I started writing here. I know it by heart, but I’ve never stopped and thought about what that means to me. We may take animation seriously, but do I? Why?
I do take animation seriously, but I know plenty of people who don’t. People my age who insist that animation is a lower art form than live action, people who think all cartoons are gross out shows like Ren and Stimpy, and people who think animation is either aimed at pre-schoolers or is Family Guy. So with all these influences around me, how did I end up here?
Like for many people, my love of animation started at a young age. I thank my parents for raising me on the classics like The Flintstones and Scooby Doo, but also letting me watch some of the more modern series such as Fairly Odd Parents and Codename: Kids Next Door, even when they found them annoying. It’s funny, but some of my earliest memories involve watching cartoons; for instance getting up at six in the morning to watch Hamtaro before going to kindergarten. That’s not to say I got to watch every cartoon I wanted however. For example I couldn’t watch Spongebob until I was eight; that was literally one of my birthday presents, the ability to watch Spongebob. For the most part though I was able to find and discover shows on my own, and the one I remember loving most was Code Lyoko. Back before having DVR I’d always rush downstairs after school to make sure I didn’t miss that day’s episode, even if I had seen it already. No other show sparked my imagination in quite the same way, and I truly feel that without it I wouldn’t have my love of science-fiction.
The next show to really impact my life was Total Drama Island. I happened to catch the premiere online and shortly after saw the first few episodes. I thought it was interesting and the fact that it was basically a cartoon Survivor had me hooked. I soon fell in love with the show, and refused to miss an episode. That was right when I began middle school; the show is still a huge part of my life as many of you know, and no other show has had that kind of staying power with me. It was the show that got me started on writing fanfiction, and basically introduced me to fandom.
By high school I was pretty internet savvy, and was able to start finding more shows on my own, but it took my best friend making me watch Death Note for my love of anime to start. After spending a couple of years mostly hiding it out of fear that my parents wouldn’t approve for some reason or another I slowly started dropping hints and to my surprise they didn’t mind at all. In hindsight it makes perfect sense, but still whenever my mom gets me something Attack on Titan related, or my dad sits down to watch Death Note with me, I can’t help but smile. It was also around this time I began listening to podcasts, and after watching Legend of Korra I wanted to hear a podcast about it, which led me to From the Spirit World. This was the first time my love of animation and podcasts crossed over, and it was around then that I decided I wanted to be a Communication Studies major, and do podcasting for a living.
After years of being influenced and inspired I actually began studying animation, trying to see why some shows worked and others didn’t, and be able to have an intelligent conversation about it. I would come across as a massive fanboy to everyone, but I knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life. Just before high school ended Adventure Time blew my mind with “Breezy,” and Steven Universe brought me to tears with “Lion 3: Straight to Video.” These two episodes specifically made me realize just how much a show could do, and I wanted the world to know that. I wanted to make everyone see just how much animation could teach, inspire, and move us. Just a few months later I decided to send a message to the people who used to run From the Spirit World at their new podcast, Overly Animated. They were gracious enough to take me in as a blogger and soon I was given a chance to follow my dreams and podcast. Now I’m able to tell others everything I know, love, and think about animation, and hopefully inspire others to do the same. All that I’ve managed to accomplish, all the dreams of mine I’ve made come true. All that I hope I inspire and instill in others, it’s all because of animation. And that is why I take animation seriously.