As a genre, adventure is most often described as one that is geared towards inciting excitement and eliciting a reaction from audiences. In the field of animation, adventure-themed content is typically presented in two forms: film and series. One of the most significant trends in animated adventure series currently is unusual storytelling which is utilized strategically to capture the dynamic beauty of adventure animations.
Adventure animations always have attractive visuals, but creators are focusing increasingly on the method and forms of storytelling. The more unusual, witty and powerful your story is, the more engaging the animation world you can build around it. For example, the creators of Japanese adventure animation series One Piece consistently reveal the backstories of characters as the story progresses. This helps the storylines build on each other and plant seeds for future conflicts within the series. This also increases the re-watch value of the series as viewers often notice details that hint or build up future arcs when they watch the series a second time.
Another example would be the recent Star Wars: Visions, an animated anthology television series that straddles adventure and sci-fi, it utilizes the technique of multiple flashbacks to narrate the story and hold onto viewers’ attention. The creative folks at Pixar have definitely nailed their storytelling technique and have been rewarded handsomely for it. The franchise has raked in $4.8 billion in box office sales and acquired legions of fans across the globe.
Thus, it can be seen that the uniqueness of your storytelling and narration techniques add to the overall beauty and appeal of the animation series and thus appear more attractive to audiences.
As mentioned above, storytelling holds most of the charm in adventure animations. Realism is secondary which is why big studios constantly play with animation styles and mix them with traditional models. For example, Japanese animation studio Yuasa’s adventure series are stylistically diverse but retain the distinct traits of Japanese feature-length animations - exaggerated expressions and amplified movement. By blending many art styles together in a series, creators are able to narrate a compelling tale of adventure with interesting characters.
When we think of animation soundtracks, what comes to mind is Walt Disney’s iconic scores. He recognized the importance and power of song and created scenes, adventures and characters based on the music. Even Roald Dahl notes that Disney’s works owe half their success to music. Score is incorporated seamlessly into the storyline. Oftentimes in adventure animations, characters will converse with each other, but their words are uttered in the rhythm of the melody. This allows for a seamless passage from speech to song and also helps develop situations and characters’ personalities.
The main purpose of animation is to simplify life’s toughest dilemmas. Popular themes in adventure animations include self-acceptance and resilience. Western and European adventure animations are often targeted at the younger crowd, hence the themes selected are watered down and made easy to understand. An example would be British series Shaun the Sheep which focuses on a sheep’s misadventures in the countryside and the lessons he learns along the way. The concept of independence is highly perpetuated throughout the series and intended for the younger audience to grasp.
Adventure animation that has been a hit on Netflix is Elizabeth Ito’s series: City of Ghosts. In a world that is currently divided by hate, she says that the messages from this show can “help us recover”. The Netflix series takes viewers on an adventure through L.A.’s diverse and historic neighborhoods and communities. Although the series and its characters are fundamentally simple, Ito manages to convey their stories in the most striking manner, thus reflecting the reality of one of America’s richest melting pots of culture.
Returning to the local animated film scene, here are some notable production studios that have been making waves in the industry.
Digital Frontier Motion Pictures Corp.’s The Legend of Sun Walker: The Plantain-fan participated in the 2018 Asia TV Forum & market, Taiwan Pitch. Directed by Adam Juang, this film is an adaptation of the exceedingly popular Chinese novel Journey to the West. The company was established in 2000 and specializes in providing OEM and ODM services for CGI and VFX in films and television dramas.
At the industry renowned 2021 Annecy Festival, City of Lost Things, was one of the Feature Films Contrechamp in Competition. This 3D animation features how a 16-year-old teenager and a gang of garbage, an interesting combination of personalities and adventures, in their attempt to find belonging and the ultimate utopia.
And in 2020 one of the nominees for Taiwan’s prestigious Golden Harvest screenplay award was CEMACEMAS, a mythological story adapted from the indigenous peoples of Taiwan. The adventure follows Samilikan, a Taiwanese little girl with a big destiny and illustrates an enchanting Taiwanese indigenous legend and describes the greed of human beings and the punishment from the god.
In order to feed the demand for bigger and better adventure animations, studios have progressive series with stellar action and adventure elements. From unusual storytelling to new minimalism, the trends of adventure animation are ever changing and as new cinematography techniques are discovered, the world of adventure animation is only looking to become even more epic.