Animated shows never really went away. But they're beginning to push back into the mainstream once more, filling in creative areas that live-action simply can't reach.
Streaming platforms like Netflix are starting to invest more heavily and use animation more tactically to fill out the worlds they create. Animated spin-offs and companion shows are becoming the norm. Anime is becoming much more accessible too, with hugely successful shows now becoming available worldwide. And sweet, sweet nostalgia is bringing the 90's, the true era of the cartoon, back into the fold.
Here's a few exciting shows releasing over the next year to really get animated about.
'The Legend of Vox Machina'
Over on Prime, 'The Legend of Vox Machina' released last week to critical acclaim. The fantasy adventure show has an interesting origin. It's brought to us by the team behind the extremely popular Dungeons and Dragons collective 'Critical Role'.
With the popularity of new media like podcasts, Twitch streams and YouTube channels, animation does a great job to bridge the gap to mainstream media like TV or film. 'Critical Role's cast of voice actors have been performing together on various campaigns since 2014 and have amassed millions of followers worldwide who watch live on Twitch and YouTube.
Now they've brought their first campaign to the mainstream, along with some other famous voices like David Tennant, Stephanie Beatriz ('Brooklyn Nine Nine'), Tony Hale ('Arrested Development') and Dominic Monaghan ('The Lord of the Rings').
We say more D&D mainstream content, please.
'The Legend of Vox Machina' is out now on Prime.
'The Boys Presents: Diabolical'
Sticking to Prime, the massively popular 'The Boys' is getting an animated addition to its own little world.
Having accompanying animated shows to explore and enhance worlds around series and movies could be a smart move for future projects and it seems to be the in-vogue way to build out a franchise currently. It's the perfect medium to explore history and lore, side-character arcs and backstories that we would otherwise never see on screen.
'The Boys Presents: Diabolical' follows this trend of animated spinoffs which allow the episode writers (including Andy Samberg, Awkwafina and Justin Roiland) to have a little fun in the world of the original show.
The list of actors involved in the upcoming show is incredible. The likes of Jason Isaacs, Aisha Taylor, Don Cheadle, Kieran Culkin, Michael Cera and Giancarlo Esposito are all involved.
'The Boys: Diabolical' releases on Prime on March 4.
'Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas'
Right under our noses, Netflix and Zac Snyder impressively created a multi-movie franchise in less than a year. 'Army of the Dead' first hit our screens in May last year, 'Army of Thieves' quickly followed suit in October. Now, an animated spin-off is in the works. Titled 'Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas', the show will be coming to Netflix later this year.
The anime series chronicles the origin story of Scott (Dave Bautista) and his rescue crew during the initial fall of Vegas as they confront the mysterious source of the zombie outbreak. Zack Snyder will direct 2 episodes of the anime series. Bautista, Ana de la Reguera, Tig Notaro, Omari Hardwick and Ella Purnell will reprise their roles in the anime series.
'Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas' releases sometime in Spring of this year.
Oh, Cyberpunk. The late 2020 launch of the most anticipated game in recent history was as disastrous as it gets. Absolutely rife with bugs and glitches, it was a such a dud that it had to be pulled from the Playstation store for more than half a year. Even with new updates and bug fixes, the reputation of the game hasn't really recovered since.
Now, the games company behind the flop, CD Projekt Red (of 'The Witcher' fame) with the help of Netflix are trying to redeem themselves by releasing a brand new series set in the 'Cyberpunk' world.
'Cyberpunk: Edgerunners' tells a standalone, 10-episode story about a street kid trying to survive in a technology and body modification-obsessed city of the future. Having everything to lose, he chooses to stay alive by becoming an edgerunner—a mercenary outlaw also known as a cyberpunk.
With quite a low bar set, 'Edgerunners' could potentially overtake the game in popularity, here's hoping a success is made of the world built by the Polish games company. It would be a fascinating one to flesh out on screen, with plenty of promise.
'Cyberpunk: Edgerunners' releases on Netflix sometime this year.
'The Cuphead Show'
Keeping on the themes of game adaptations, 'The Cuphead Show' is bringing a much beloved 2017 game to our screens this year. The game involved Cuphead and his brother Mugman in a side scrolling shooter. Their mission? To repay their debt to the devil himself.
Netflix announced that it was giving the anthropomorphic liquid holder his own show last year. Despite only being a few years old, Cuphead relies on a nostalgic feel of old video games with fun, chaotic worlds. The trailer looks well and truly wild and will surely bring in a new audience of Cuphead fans.
'The Cuphead Show' releases on Netflix on Feb 18, unleashing its surreal world to the masses.
'The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder'
It's been a long time since 'The Proud Family' has appeared on our screens but fret not, its back! And it's louder and prouder than ever. First airing on the Disney Channel back in 2001, the fan favourite is making a comeback this year with the pretty much all of the original voice cast returning.
The show, similar to when it first started, follows the adventures and misadventures of newly 14-year-old Penny Proud and her Proud Family as they navigate modern life with hilarity and heart.
This show's comeback is a great example of nostalgia reviving shows from the past, specifically the 90's. Think 'Bel-Air', 'The Mighty Ducks' and 'Beavis and Butthead'. The prime audiences for these shows are now in their late twenties and early thirties, and the nostalgia element proves there will always be a demand for these revivals.
'The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder' releases on Disney+ on Feb 23.