I’ve become quite annoyed put by the amount of times I’ve read the phrase “you start to forget it’s an animation” This has come up quite a few times for me recently, since I like to look at some of the IMDB reviews after I watching one of the Ghibli films I’ve been going through lately. I remember seeing Roger Egbert’s comments on Grave of the Fireflies, even though he’s made some excellent comments on why that and Totoro are great, there’s always the slight sense that he’s trying to apologize and justify the film because of reservations people might have because it’s animated.
The only thing I can read into it is that these people have very narrow preconceptions about what Animation is and does. How exactly could you forget you’re watching animation? Just because something is telling a heartfelt and compelling story, is that suddenly outside the realms of what animation does? Do you feel slightly insecure about liking animation? I think we’ve proved by this point that it isn’t just for telling wacky children’s stories. I mean come on guys; it’s the 90’ for goodness sake! We’ve all seen the Simpsons.
Personally I’ve never found I forget I’m watching a cartoon because they can themselves to a specific art directions that defines the world it’s taking place in. It can do things with mood lighting in a way that isn’t always possible when relying on natural light. You can tell so much about a character through simple eye movements and even through things like the way they move and walk and other little bits of physical business that have a unique look and feel because of the way it’s animated. So no I didn’t forget I was watching an animation, because even some very down to earth stories can be best told through animation.